fishing vessels to catch fish at unsustainable rates resulting in depletion of fish stocks and extinction of some fish species (WWF 2012). While the rate of increase in overall food production is falling, the human population and the demand for food continue to increase (OECD and FAO 2013). It is increasingly being recognized that conventional food production systems are undermining the ecosystem services that food production depends on, and in order to ensure future food security it is necessary to implement management approaches that are less damaging to the environment (Munang et al. 2011). Ecosystem approaches represent an alternative to conventional food production. Ecosystem approaches are defined by the Convention on Biological Diversity (1992) as “a strategy for the integrated management of land, water and living resources that promotes conservation and sustainable use in an equitable way. It is based on the application of appropriate scientific methodologies focused on levels of biological organization, which encompass the essential processes, functions and interactions among organisms and their environment. It recognizes that humans, with their cultural diversity, are an integral component of ecosystems.”
soil productivity (Kang and Akinnifesi 2000), storing carbon as well as providing habitats for wild pollinators (FAO 2011a).
The world’s fish stocks are also increasingly being overexploited. In the mid-1970s, only 10 per cent of world fish stocks were categorized as overexploited. Forty years later, about 30 per cent of world fish stocks were defined as overexploited. Fully exploited fish stocks have increased from 50 to 57 per cent from the 1970s to 2009 (FAO 2012b). Overexploitation of fish stocks is not only detrimental to individual species such as the North American cod, tuna and sharkspecies (FAO2012b; Schmidt et al. 2013), but it also means that fish stocks are unable to replenish themselves and will not reach their full production potential. It has been estimated that in 2000, an additional 17 per cent of fish catch in low-income food deficit nations could have been harvested had the fish stocks been sustainably managed (Srinivasan et al. 2010). Ecosystem approaches to avert food loss Through advances in technology conventional food production has delivered increasing yields. However, these same advances have also reduced the capacity of ecosystems to provide food (FAO 2013a) as an overuse of fertilizers and other chemicals in agriculture pollutes soil, water and air (FAO 2013a), and kills insect pollinators vital for food production (Farooqui 2013; Pettis et al. 2013). Improved fishing technologies have caused
Through ecosystem approaches humanity will not only reduce its footprint on the environment, but also improve the Earth’s