HLPE consultation on the V0 draft of the Report: The Role of Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture for Food Security and Nutrition

18.11.2013 - 20.12.2013

In November 2012, the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) requested the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition (HLPE) to conduct a study on The Role of Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture for food security and nutrition. Taking into account the results of the scoping consultation, the HLPE intends to assess the importance and relevance of Fisheries and Aquaculture for Food Security and nutrition as well as the current challenges faced by Fisheries and Aquaculture in relation to Food Security, pointing out changes going on, including overexploitation of fish stocks and the boom of aquaculture, in order to better understand these changes and to maximize the positive effects of them.

Final findings of the study will feed into CFS 41 Plenary session on policy convergence (October 2014).

As part of the process of elaboration of its reports, the HLPE now seeks inputs, suggestions, comments on the present V0 draft.

This e-consultation will be used by the HLPE to further elaborate the report, which will then be submitted to external expert review, before finalization and approval by the HLPE Steering Committee.

HLPE V0 drafts are deliberately presented – with their range of imperfections – early enough in the process, at a work-in-progress stage, when sufficient time remains to give proper consideration feedback received so that it can be really useful and play a real role in the elaboration of the report. It is a key part of the scientific dialogue between the HLPE Project team and Steering Committee with the rest of the knowledge community.

In particular, the HLPE would welcome comments and evidence based suggestions, references, examples, etc. on policy aspects, from an evidence-based perspective, on what can be done to improve the contributions of fisheries and aquaculture to improve food security and nutrition, now and in the future, in various contexts.

It is a fact: fish is nutritionally rich (in particular in bioavailable calcium, iron, zinc, and vitamin A); and fish (either produced through fish-farming activity or caught from wild stocks through fisheries) is used in many developing countries as a primary source of animal protein. The latest estimate by the FAO suggests for instance that in 2009, fish accounted for 17% of the global population’s intake of animal protein and 6.5% of all protein consumed. Globally, fish provides about 3.0 billion people with almost 20 percent of their average per capita intake of animal protein, and 4.3 billion people with about 15 percent of such protein (FAO 2012).

Yet, fisheries and aquaculture are absent from most global reports on food and food insecurity (e.g., FAO SOFA and the FAO food insecurity reports) and, with some few exceptions, fish has so far been ignored in the international debate on food security and nutrition. At the same time, although the fisheries literature recognizes the importance of fish in relation to food security and nutrition, the analysis goes rarely beyond the simple adage stating that: “Fish is a rich food for the poor”.

There is an urgent need to go beyond this adage and establish more rigorously the link between fish ad food security and nutrition. The key-question that this study will aim to address is: “recognizing the well-established importance of fish to food security and nutrition, what should be done to maintain or even enhance this contribution now and in the long term, given the challenges that both fisheries and aquaculture sectors are facing in terms of their own environmental sustainability and governance, and the external economic and demographic transitions that they have to respond to?”

In order to address this overarching question, several more specific interrogations may be considered:

Respective contribution of fisheries and aquaculture to food security and nutrition: How and to what extent do fisheries and aquaculture contribute to food security - through which impact pathways? What is the evidence available to present fisheries and aquaculture as key ways for improving the food security of targeted populations?

Women and food security: What is the specific role of women in enhancing food security in fisheries and aquaculture sectors? What are the threats and barriers to this specific role and why and how should this role be strengthened?

Sectorial trade-offs and food security: Are there any trade-offs between the sectors’ contributions at different levels or between different groups? In other words, is it possible that enhancing food security at one level (or for one specific target group, e.g. urban consumers) reduces food security at another level (or for another specific group, e.g. fishers/producers)? As part of this issue, what is the overall contribution of international fish trade on food security?

Environmental sustainability of fisheries and aquaculture: Beyond an obvious long-term dependence, what is the relationship (trade-offs; synergies) between resource conservation and food security? In particular what are the short- and medium-term impacts of the large number of conservation interventions (e.g. marine protected areas) that have been recently established, on the local populations dependent on small-scale fisheries?

Governance and food security: What are the effects of the various management and governance reforms (e.g. co-management programmes) currently implemented at national level throughout the world’s fisheries, on food security? At the international level what is the role and impact of recent global programmes and campaigns such as the “International Plan of Action to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (IPOA-IUU)”, or the implementation of BMPs (Best Management Practices) in aquaculture on food security?

Fisheries and aquaculture interaction: Are there any trade-offs between aquaculture and fisheries in relation food security? In particular is the use of fish meal (to feed farmed fish) a threat to human food security?

The future of fisheries and aquaculture in the context of foods security: What future role fisheries and aquaculture will be able to play in the context of the combined impact of demographic transition (increased population and increased living standard) and climate change (likely decrease in world agriculture production capacity)?

We thank in advance all the contributors for being kind enough to read and comment on this early version of our report. We look forward for a rich and fruitful consultation.

The HLPE Project Team and Steering Committee

Government of New Zealand ,

Dear all

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the draft HLPE paper concerning the role of sustainable fisheries and aquaculture for food security and nutrition. 

Please find attached some comments on the draft. 

Kind regards,


Ingrid O'Sullivan| Senior International Adviser, International Fisheries Management
International | Policy
Ministry for Primary Industries | Pastoral House 25 The Terrace | PO Box 2526 | Wellington | New Zealand

See the attachment: NZ comments on draft FSN.pdf
UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food ,

On behalf of the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, I am enclosing his report on 'Fisheries and the right to food', presented at the 67th Session of the United Nations General Assembly [A/67/268].

In this report, the Rapporteur assesses the contribution of fisheries to the right to food, and identifies the challenges facing global fisheries (unsustainability, rise of aquaculture, globalization of the fishing industry). The report then examines how the individuals most vulnerable to negative impacts (the residents of developing coastal and island countries, especially low-income food-deficit countries) can be supported to ensure the progressive realization of the right to food, noting that pursuing a human rights approach is critical to achieving sustainable development in the fisheries sector.

The report ends with a series of recommendations which may be of interest for the HLPE report on "The role of sustainable fisheries and aquaculture for food security and nutrition". Of particular interest is a discussion on the role of trade agreements and an assessment of international efforts to reduce overfishing.

We hope this will be of use to your important work.

Best regards,

Priscilla Claeys

See the attachment: 20121030_fish_en (2).pdf
Richard Veeran, Suresh Chand Ministry of Fisheries & Forests, Fiji

This is a well written and comprehensive report. The objectives appear to have been met with thorough assessments of the gaps that exist today. However, allow us to make a few comments and observations to help in the finalization process.

Though development of aquaculture in the region has been limited compared with other areas of the world, it is of great importance to Pacific Islands Countries & Territories (PICTs) and has been identified and proven as a potential source of income to meet essential needs, and as a supplement or alternative to revenues from coastal and freshwater fisheries. For Fiji in particular, its impacts and contribution to Livelihood, Food Security and Economic Development has been crucial although it has yet to achieve its full potential.

With Inshore fisheries and Offshore Fisheries, providing for a huge portion of exports and job security in the Fisheries sector, pressure on stocks which have brought about significant catch decline in the national waters as well as in the Pacific region can only be supported through development of sustainable Aquaculture. Consequently, the Fiji government has invested close to F$1.7million in a Multi-species hatchery for aquaculture in its western division. Initial stages will focus on Freshwater species, culture of Brackishwater as well as Marine species.

In addition to stock pressure, Coastal Fisheries is projected to show progressive decline in productivity due to both the direct effects (e.g. increased SST) and indirect effects (changes to fish habitats) of climate change for Fiji. With almost 52% of the rural population's fisheries provided by subsistence catch and 7% in urban areas  (Bell et al. 2009) as their main protein source, aquaculture will not only bridge the gap of protein requirement but also create sustainable livelihoods and employment opportunities. Moreover, aquaculture is also one of the few fisheries activities which have been confirmed by the International Food Policy Research Institute [www.ifpri.org] to be undertaken for Climate Change Adaptation for food security and for the improvements of livelihood for communities. It would be good to see these recommendations emphatically reiterated for follow through.

As Bell states in his recent report (2011), despite the fact that there are negative impacts of Aquaculture, responsible aquaculture holds promise to increase not only freshwater fish production but with the potential to increase brackish and marine fish species. This would only serve to bolster both food security and the livelihoods of peoples living in both rural and peri-urban areas.

In addition, given the far reaching global impacts of climate-change and the emergence of new and or revised science around the issue, it may be prudent that the apparent and nuanced impacts on our sector are comprehensively factored. Whilst the impacts of Climate Change is mentioned, the authors of the Role of Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture for Food Security and Nutrition report may need to take into consideration the findings in the IPCC AR5 to account as its projections have direct as well as indirect impacts on the sector that we can ill afford to under estimate nor down-play.


· Bell JD, Johnson JE and Hobday AJ (eds) (2011). “Vulnerability of Tropical Pacific Fisheries and Aquaculture to Climate Change.” Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Noumea, New Caledonia.

· Cochrane, Kevern, Cassandra De Young, Doris Soto, and Tarûb Bahri. "Climate change implications for fisheries and aquaculture." FAO Fisheries and aquaculture technical paper 530 (2009): 212.

Contributions by:

Richard Veeran (Fisheries Assistant),
Suresh Chand (Director Fisheries),

Department of Fisheries

Ministry of Fisheries & Forests,
Level 3,Takayawa Bldgs,
Toorak, Suva,

Fiji Islands

Natasha Stacey Australia

Dear Team

Thanks for the opportunity to comment on this excellent  report.

Some minor comments and suggestions included below for your consideration.


Dr Natasha Stacey



Darwin, Northern Territory 0909 AUSTRALIA



Section 4.2 under Gender and Work in the Fish Sector

  • P 63. While women cannot register as fishers, the work of women in small -scale fisheries is often not counted in national government census collections under fisheries related employment. For example in Indonesia, the Indonesian Bureau of Statistics collects and produces fisheries related data for each province on the number of  fishers employed in the fishery sector either on a full time, part time ‘major’ or part time ‘minor’ basis but this generally refers to male fishers only (see Fitriana and Stacey 2012:160).
  • There is also a paucity of literature of studies on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and participation fisheries from Northern A National Indigenous fishing survey conducted in 2000 (Henry and Lyle 2003) did not present any gender disaggregated data. Australia. (Also Noting that Australia and Indigenous women was not mentioned at all in Harper et al 2013 paper on women’s participation in fisheries globally).

Indigenous, and Semi-Nomadic fishers and FSN

  • The specific food security needs and nutritional contribution of Indigenous maritime mobile or semi-nomadic peoples of Southeast Asia perhaps warrants a specific mention or paragraph. Here I am referring to the three major ethno-linguistic groups of the Moken, Orang-Laut and the Sama-Bajau (and approximately the 9 sub groupings) found in Indonesia, The Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia and Burmese waters (Stacey  2007). These groups have a specific dependence on fish for food, nutrition and income however virtually no research has been conducted into the links between their extremely high dependence on marine resources, nutrition, and their health.
  • Within this region, changes in the marine environment due to a range of drivers and threats along with other socio-economic changes can impact on the traditional food systems, nutrition and health of Indigenous people. This is particularly an issue for these semi-nomadic populations, who rely heavily on marine foods for health and nutrition but also for income.
  • Internationally the Policy around Maritime Indigenous Peoples and Food Security appears weak but the work of Harriet Kuhnlein (eg Kuhnlein et al 2009) from McGill University may  deal with some of these issues in various publications in more detail.

The issue of marginalised (e.g semi-nomadic)  groups, culture and MPAs and impacts on food security  was raised in Foale et al 2013. This paper also raised other issues around CTI Policy and Plans and marine biodiversity, conservation and food security.

  • These issues could be raised at page 36 in the Report ( marginalised peoples and poor health) - fish dependent communities may consume high amounts of fish but have poor health due to some of the factors outlined at page 36-37 of the report as well as specific issues around tenure and access to pursue mobile livelihoods (see Stacey and Allison submitted, but also others have discussed this - Krueger 2009, Springer 2009)and related issues from West African migratory fisheries (Cripps, Jorion and others)
  • In northern Australia, Aboriginal people in remote coastal communities rely on traditional foods and marine resources to supplement their diets which are often based on refined foods purchased from local community stores. Customary harvesting activities are thought to critically contribute to local food security and provide important sources of protein and micronutrients. The links between indigenous health and wellbeing and access to ‘country' are increasingly recognised.  Despite this, there have been few detailed studies into the harvest practices and consumption of traditional foods of Aboriginal peoples and the contribution to food security.  Further, the contribution and consumption of traditional foods is not generally included in health and nutritional programs or studies of consumption patterns in remote Aboriginal communities  (Petheram et al 2013:8).  
  • (There is also wide and varied body of research literature on the subsistence activities, practices and economies among contemporary indigenous hunter-gatherer societies across the world but in particular from North America, Asia and the Pacific. This includes research on the contribution of subsistence harvests to health and nutrition (eg.Kuhnlein 1991, 2009, Berkes and Farkas 1979, Usher 1976) – but I have not included these references here).

Some References cited

Fitriana, R and Stacey, N. 2012. The role of women in the fishery sector of Pantar Island, Indonesia. Gender in Aquaculture and Fisheries: Moving the Agenda Forward Asian Fisheries Science Special Issue Vol 25S (2012):159-175.


Foale, S., D. Adhuri, P.  Aliño, E. Allison, N. Andrew, P. Cohen, L. Evans, Mi.  Fabinyi, P Fidelman, C. Gregory, N. Stacey, J. Tanzer, N. Weeratunge.  2013. Food security and the Coral Triangle Initiative. Marine Policy 38: 174-183 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.marpol.2012.05.033

Kuhnlein, HV, Erasmus, B & Spigelski, D 2009 Indigenous people’s food systems: themany dimensions of culture, diversity and environment for nutrition and health. United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, Rome. Accessed January 2013 http://www.fao.org/docrep/012/i0370e/i0370e00.htm

Krueger, L 2009, ‘Protected Areas and Human Displacement: Improving the Interface between Policy and Practice’, Conservation Society [serial online], vol. 7, no. 21-5, viewed 2 May 2009, <http://www.conservationandsociety.org/text.asp?2009/7/1/21/54793>.

Henry, GW & Lyle, JM 2003, National recreational and Indigenous fishing survey,

Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Canberra

Petheram, L, Fleming, A, Stacey, N and Perry, A 2013 Indigenous women’s preferences for climate change adaptation and aquaculture development to build capacity in the Northern Territory, National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility, Gold Coast, pp. 76. http://www.nccarf.edu.au/sites/default/files/attached_files_publications/Fleming-2013-Indigenous-women-aquaculture-WEB_0.pdf

Springer, J. 2009, ‘Addressing the social impacts of conservation: Lessons from experience and future directions’, Opinion, Conservation and Society, vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 26-29.

Stacey, N. 2007. Boats to Burn: Bajo fishing activity in the Australian Fishing Zone. Asia-Pacific Environment Monograph Series, ANU E Press, Canberra. http://epress.anu.edu.au/boats_citation.html

Stacey, N and EH Allison (Submitted Oct 2013) Bajo Mobility, Livelihoods and Marine Conservation in Indonesia. In King, T and G Robinson (eds)  At Home on the Waves, Berghan Press

Marc Oswald APDRA Pisciculture Paysanne, France

1.Généralité :

1.1Excellent travail de synthèse :

Le rapport est très bien documenté et très intéressant. Il remet à sa juste place le poisson qu’il soit pêché ou élevé. Féliciations.

Il se veut une synthèse scientifique du secteur, ce qui est louable mais ceci centre le rapport sur les principaux faits connus et déjà décrits.

1.2Distribution du poisson :

Il faut noter que dans certaines campagnes enclavées où la pratique de la pisciculture existe peu (cas fréquent des zones d’économie de plantation d’Afrique de l’Ouest et Centrale), le poisson est distribué à des prix supérieurs au prix où il arrive en ville. Le stress pour les populations rurales lié au difficile accès au poisson (et en plus souvent de médiocre qualité) est donc particulièrement fort d’autant plus que ce sont des zones où de très nombreuses formes de malnutrition et de carences sont observées.

2.Remarques particulières à propos de la petites aquaculture (tirés des exemples africains).

2.1Utilisation de l’eau :

La petite aquaculture peut être un outil lorsqu’elle est bien conçue d’amélioration des systèmes irrigués. La compétition est présentée en terme de compétition spatiale, et surtout compétition pêche aquaculture, jamais en terme de synergie.

La pisciculture participer parfois (des situations contraires sont aussi décrites) à l’amélioration de la distribution, du stockage de l’eau à des fins agricoles. En terme de développement rural pour améliorer la sécurité alimentaire, évaluer l’utilisation de l’eau globale avec sa valorisation piscicole devrait être un objectif plus souvent promu.

2.2Sélection génétique

La sélection génétique lorsqu’elle est mal conçue en terme de gouvernance peut être un moyen de restaurer des oligopoles sur les populations pauvres qui en contrecoup vont subir un préjudice plus fort que si les états ou les organismes de développement concernés n’avaient pas recherché l’amélioration des souches élevées (en à Madagascar, Benz et Oswald, 2010). Il y a donc un coût et des bénéfices à la sélection génétique et tous les gains ne sont pas forcément redistribués au niveau des populations pauvres. Dans certaines situations, ces tentatives se soldent plutôt par des échecs. Particulièrement, s’il faut davantage transporter les poissons et si les achats sortent de la communauté rurale.

Il y a donc un coût à la sélection génétique qui peut parfois desservir les petits aquaculteurs. Les solutions alternatives, comme une organisation de réseaux d’échange de géniteurs pour maintenir une bonne variabilité génétique qui sont susceptibles de laisser la liberté aux acteurs,  les soustrayant à cette potentielle main mise des organismes certificateurs et des contrôles associés, ne sont pas assez promues alors qu’elle restent localement plus efficientes qu’une sélection génétique. (Oswald et al 2013)

2.3Des réalités de développement d’aquaculure de développement à petites échelles existent en Afrique

Les travaux de l’APDRA (www.apdra.org) appuyés notamment par l’AFD et l’UE, ont montré que des expériences locales particulièrement en Guinée et en Côte d’Ivoire étaient tout à fait des réussites avec des impacts durables sur les communautés rurales (Oswald 2013, Simon et Benhamou, 2009).

En Afrique, on ne peut pas opposer simplement toutes les formes de promotion de la petite aquaculture aux actions de promotion de la pisciculture à petite ou moyenne échelle où les échecs sont aussi très nombreux et pas toujours bien documentés. Force est de constater le non-consensus sur les stratégies de développement de la pisciculture : par exemple certaines approches font l’apologie de subventions pour la construction d’étangs, ce qui a souvent comme conséquence d’augmenter le prix de l’investissement global, de ne pas tendre vers des systèmes où les petits producteurs ont les moyens de contrôler les réalisations et de les entretenir par eux-mêmes et aboutit ainsi à terme à l’effet inverse. Il en est de même pour les systèmes intensifs, où beaucoup d’interventions proposent des systèmes clés en main mais ou au final le risque financier porté par le paysan est bien supérieur à ce qu’il court sur ses autres activités agricoles. Enfin, il convient aussi de rappeler le non-consensus sur les espèces introduites, avec une quantité élevée d’actions qui se lancent sur des espèces non connues et qui sont sans lendemain. Faire un fourre-tout de tous les appuis à la pisciculture rurale ne paraît pas pertinent car associe des univers très hétéroclites. A l’opposé, il faut constater que si l’aquaculture jouait un rôle équivalent à celui qu’elle joue dans les campagnes asiatiques, le problème de la malnutrition se poserait de façon différente à l'échelle de l'Afrique. Dans cette comparaison, il faut cependant garder à l’esprit la relative faible maîtrise de l’eau autour des activités agricoles à l’échelle de ce continent et une histoire de la pisciculture très différente.

Les propositions d’actions de développement de la pisciculture intégrée ont trop souvent échappé du fait de leur spécificité à une analyse rigoureuse et cohérente des pratiques piscicoles. Cette situation est entrain de changer mais pourrait être encouragée par ce rapport, il faut proposer des ateliers d’élevage piscicole que les paysans trouvent efficients.

BENTZ B. et OSWALD M.  2010 “Respective roles of national institutions and farmers groups in the implementation of an innovation enabling smallholders to reproduce carp inside their rice fields in Betafo (Madagascar)”. Colloque IDSA, 28 juin- 1erjuillet 2010 ; Montpellier, France. http://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-00522795/fr/

Oswald M., 2013. La pisciculture extensive, une diversification complémentaire des économies de plantation, pp 165-183 In Ruf F. et Schroth G. (Eds), Cultures pérennes tropicales enjeux économiques et écologiques de la diversification. Quae update sciences and technologies, Montpellier France. 301 pp.

Oswald M., T Ewoukem T.E. et Mikolasek O., (2013) Approach and conceptual framework of smallholder fish farming intensification: example of dam pond fish polyculture based on  all- male tilapia culture (Oreochromis niloticus) in Cameroon. Présenté à Ista 10, Jerusalement, 6-10 octobre 2013, accepté pour publication.

Simon D. et Benhamou J.F., 2009. Rice-fish farming in Guinée Forestière – outcome of a rural development project. Field Actions Sci. Rep., 2, 49-56 - www.field-actionssci-rep.net/2/49/2009/

See the attachment: 2013-12-HLPE-Oswald.doc
Paul Denekamp Stichting Vissenbescherming , Netherlands

Dear members of the HLPE-project team,

as board member of the Stichting Vissenbescherming (the Dutch Foundation for the Protection of Fish) I like to give some comments on the zero-draft consultation paper you wrote: The Role of Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture for Food Security and Nutrition.

For sure food security and nutrition is world wide a very important issue. But if you want to improve this with more animal products you also have to look at animal welfare. And if you want to improve food security and nutrition with more products from the fisheries and aquaculture you have to give attention to the affects of the fisheries and the aquaculture on the welfare of the fish that is caught or kept. In the addendum you find the pamphlet They experience stress, fear and pain I wrote about these welfare effects. The capture fisheries are with their present catch and killing methods and the more than a trillion fish that are each year the victims, the most cruel human activity to animals on this moment. In the aquaculture most kept fish also suffer a lot because of the used killing methods. Most fish farms must be considered as factory farming because of the infringement of the welfare of the kept fish.

In the paper you wrote there is no attention for fish welfare and that must be changed. No development can be named sustainable if it neglects animal welfare and that's not different for the fisheries and aquaculture. As soon as possible new catch and killing methods that harm fish a lot less must be developed for the capture fisheries. And in the aquaculture fish should also be killed in a way that they don't suffer. And the way fish is kept must be improved enormously, so these fish can develop their natural behaviours. I hope you agree with this and will mention in your final consultation paper the necessity of attention for the welfare of fish and of these changes in fishing methods and in the way fish is kept.

With the consultation paper as you have written it now, you contribute to the enormous suffering of fish caused by the fisheries and the aquaculture. You cannot do that.

I hope I made our vision clear. But if you have questions about this, please let us know.

With best regards,

Paul Denekamp 

Clara Whyte Economist and Policy Analyst, Canada

It seems to me that the report is good and very interesting.  It is great that it includes a whole section on the particular links between sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, food security and gender issues.

In the same vein, I think it would be worth adding a section on the links between sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, food security, traditional knowledge and Aboriginal people.  In fact, fish has been a traditional food of many Aboriginal people (Inuits in Northern Canada, coastal Aboriginal people in Chile or Canada, Aboriginal people from the Amazon basin in Southern America etc.).  Today, many issues are threatening the traditional diet of those people and hence their cultural heritage and food security. Many initiatives are also being undertaken in order to revert those threats, some of them being attempts to promote sustainable fisheries and aquaculture.

I would have liked to make a more in-depth contribution on that subject but I unfortunately found out a bit late about the present consultation.  Should it be of some interest, I suppose I could submit a short concept paper on that matter.

I hope this idea will be useful and I will be looking forward to reading the next version of the report. Thank you.

Ambekar Eknath Network of Aquaculture Centers in Asia-Pacific (NACA), Thailand

NACA, an intergovernmental organization of 18 member states, devoted to sustainable development of aquaculture in the Asia Pacific region, would like to place on record its appreciation to the HLPE for developing an objective and focused document.  The expert committee has endeavoured to cover almost all critical areas of direct concern and relevance to the NACA member states.  NACA organization is therefore pleased to strongly endorse the report. The well-articulated sections on Gender and Governance add considerable value to the report.

Some points the HLPE may wish to consider in finalizing the draft:

  • On Supply side HLPE should consider highlighting the importance of utilizing public water bodies (village tanks and lakes), irrigation water holding systems, inland reservoirs, for increasing fish production through Culture Based Fisheries (CBF) and community management systems.  The role of women self-help groups in enhancing the availability of affordable fish at community level.
  • The HLPE should consider a special section on scenario mapping of “Demand for fish” and most likely sources of supply of fish (and consequent deficits, if any) – globally and regionally (under various realistic context and circumstances).
  • In the introduction section, it is better to remove the “critique” on bio-fortification.  This will probably dilute the main message of HLPE and will most certainly lead to unnecessary and unproductive debate between bio-fortification vis-à-vis direct nutrition supplementation (by fish and vegetables).  Similarly, again for the same reasons, the HLPE may consider down playing the thesis advocated by “doomsday prophets” in the section on “Fisheries Crisis”.  Instead, the HLPE may consider including early on the significant positive messages which comes so late in the report in the “reflections section”. 
  • The report recognizes the gradual shift in focus from small scale subsistence aquaculture to SMEs and its role in food security and nutrition.  Enabling mechanisms for this shift may be highlighted, including mechanisms to responsibly address the challenges of trade requirements (and other challenges already articulated in the report)
  • The HLPE should consider a section on “immediate productive interventions” needed to mainstream fish in national and international FSN programs; most productive (high impact) investment opportunities for donor agencies and national policy makers. 
  • As already pointed out by others, there is a need to highlight strengthening and enhancing the effectiveness of organizations (such as NACA) that are devoted to the cause of small-scale fish farmers including women entrepreneurs. 
  • The looming threat of climate change on fisheries and aquaculture including adaptation and mitigation measures needs to be highlighted.

Ambekar E. Eknath
Director General
Network of Aquaculture Centers in Asia-Pacific (NACA)
Suraswadi Building; Kasetsart University Campus,
Bangkok, Thailand

See the attachment: NACA comments to HLPE.docx
Sea Fish Industry Authority , United Kingdom

We have limited our response to Section 3.4, Resource and environmental sustainability: necessary but not-sufficient conditions for food security

These comments relate to page 28.

The statement in line 7 appears to downplay the importance of seafood in the global diet by indicating that it is 1% of the total calorie intake of humans. Yet "Globally, fish provides about 3.0 billion people with almost 20 percent of their average per capita intake of animal protein, and 4.3 billion people with about 15 percent of such protein" (as stated on page 2 line 32). Animal protein is important because it is the source of the essential amino acid lysine, which plant protein cannot supply, and in addition seafood provides several micronutrients not available from other sources (as stated in the report on pages 15–18). Therefore seafood must continue to be available to satisfy these nutritional needs.

These comments relate to page 31.

The description of the impacts of aquaculture on the environment is not balanced. It infers that aquaculture operations of themselves have converted large parts of the coastal zone from other productive activity to a damaged state by destructive means. This may be indeed the case in some locations and regions. However, the studies underpinning this statement are relatively old: two from 1996 and 1999, which of necessity are retrospective,  and the EJF study (2002), which draws upon older and less reliable data and refers only to areas of Vietnam.  The assertion that environmental damage caused by aquaculture is mostly historical is borne out by the statement further down the page (line 32) that "the era of severe environmental problems is behind and … aquaculture is on the road to sustainability (Costa-Pierce et al. 2012)”. In common with several human endeavours, aquaculture continues to have the potential of causing environmental damage. However, with the benefit of experience and with more focus on sustainability, these consequences can be reduced significantly. In several cases aquaculture can confer environmental benefits e.g. shellfish farming can reduce the damaging effects of eutrophication (Rice, 1999).

The question is: can aquaculture proceed sustainably, so that any damage is reversible? Another question may be: how does aquaculture fare in comparison to other forms of production of animal protein?

When taking a global view of the need to alleviate hunger it may be worth looking at the potential impact of restrictions and pressures being imposed on aquaculture growth in the developed part of the globe and consider if such restrictions are displacing effort, production and consequential ‘damage’ to areas in less developed nations.

The seas around the UK and in the contiguous EU waters are under increasing pressure to provide services to a wide range of other coastal users. See here for examples of cables and oil and gas pipelines in waters around the UK http://www.seafish.org/media/1127829/cables_oilgas_owf_a0_bbord_ofc.pdf

and the Irish Sea http://www.seafish.org/media/1127826/activity_chart_i_sea_ofce_lr.pdf. The FishSAFE (Oil & Gas pipelines in UK waters, www.fishsafe.eu ) and KIS-ORCA (Cables and Renewables in UK and surrounding waters, www.kis-orca.eu ) mapping systems have accounted for >16,000 miles of pipeline, >350 safety zones, >1,000 subsea structures, >1,200 wind turbines, >600 miles of wind farm export cabling and >27,000 miles of subsea telecoms and power cables (M. Frow, Seafish, personal communication).

In the UK the aquaculture sector experiences significant difficulties in gaining space and permission to maintain operations, to expand or move offshore. Seafish and partners have investigated the potential to coexist with other users, and found, for example, that shellfish production can coexist with offshore wind farms ( Syvret et al., 2013). It may be advantageous for this report to indicate the attributes and benefits of such agreements where they are suitable.

Also the species that are suitable for northern hemisphere culture operations are not necessarily suitable for southern hemisphere production. Therefore if production of a traditional species is stifled and unable to meet regional demand could it be said that the market for seafood is trying to fulfil demand by encouraging consumption of a species easily cultivated in another part of the world. If this appears to be the case, any study and report into the role of aquaculture in meeting the needs of the global population may consider displacement of effort and the consequential reduction of production regionally.

In line 34 it is stated, appropriately, that "as in fisheries, the debate  on  the sustainability of aquaculture has only occasionally  been framed in relation to food (or nutritional) security." More work certainly needs to be carried out to evaluate the aquaculture "footprint" in relation to the environmental cost of other methods of protein production. One rare study (Pelletier et al., 2011) indicates that some forms of fishing and aquaculture are remarkably low in terms of "cradle-to-producer life cycle energy use" when compared to livestock production. Maintenance of biodiversity in areas of fish production is much higher than in areas of livestock or agricultural production (Hilborn, 2012).

Finally, on line 12, it is stated that "aquaculture is still a relatively new industry". Whereas the intensification of aquaculture of some species is relatively new, aquaculture has been practised in various parts of the world for millennia (Rabanal 1988; Stichtenoth, 2006) http://www.monash.edu.au/pubs/monmag/issue17-2006/research/research-eels.html.,


Hilborn, R., 2012. Sustainability and environmental impacts of food from the sea. Presentation given at the World Fisheries Congress, Edinburgh 7–11 May 2012. Available from http://rayhblog.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/hilborn-world-fisheries-congress.pdf

Pelletier, N., Audsley, E., Brodt, S., Garnett, T., Henriksson, P., Kendall, A., Kramer, K. J., Murphy, D., Nemecek, T., & Troell, M. (2011). Energy intensity of agriculture and food systems. Annual Review of Environment and Resources, 36 (1), 223-246.

Rabanal, H.R., 1988. History of Aquaculture. ASEAN/SF/88/Tech. 7. ASEAN/UNDP/FAO Regional Small-Scale Coastal Fisheries Development Project, Manila.

Rice, M.A., 1999. Control of eutrophication by bivalves: Filtration of particulates and removal of nitrogen through harvest of rapidly growing stocks. Journal of Shellfish Research 18(1):275.

Stichtenosh, K., 2006. Once were eel farmers. Monash Magazine, Autumn/Winter 2006. Available from http://www.monash.edu.au/pubs/monmag/issue17-2006/research/research-eels.html

Syvret, M., FitzGerald, A., Wilson, J., Ashley, M., Ellis Jones, C., 2013.  Aquaculture in Welsh offshore wind farms: a feasibility study into potential cultivation in offshore wind farm sites. Report for the Shellfish Association of Great Britain, 250p. Available from http://www.shellfish.org.uk/readmore.php?newsid=51

John Kurien India

Comments on the HLPE Report on The Role of Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture for Food Security and Nutrition

John Kurien

Viewed in its totality this is a good and informative report which examines the role of fisheries and aquaculture and its contribution to food security and nutrition from several perspectives. In particular the special emphasis on the issues of gender and governance add considerable value to the report.

My own understanding is that there are four conditions which must be in place for sustainable food security to materialise. They are (1) the physical availability of the food in question (2) the physical and more importantly the economic accessibility to the food (3) the proper external environmental circumstances for absorption of the food and (4) the right and proper awareness about the qualities and merits of the food. To me, these are the 4 A’s to food security. I think they go beyond the FAO criteria.

I think the issue of awareness about the role of fish in FS&N is not adequately emphasised in food security and nutrition discussions. You can have a situation where all the other three A’s are present. However, without awareness about the beneficial nature of fish as a source of good protein and micro-nutrients it may not be consumed.  In developing countries, an important condition to ensure this awareness is female literacy.

In the HLPE report this issue of awareness is not mentioned. I think it should find a place in the report and measures which need to be taken to enhance the awareness of the role of fish in FS&N should be stated.