Food loss and waste in aquatic ecosystems Aquatic ecosystems are crucial for food security. Overfishing is depleting the world fish stocks and the resource base for many people. Yet, an estimated 35 per cent of all caught fish and seafood is never consumed, because it is either lost or wasted along the food supply chain. Estimates suggests that discards from fishing vessels alone could satisfy the daily protein needs of 370 million people for a year, and by recovering depleted fish stocks the increase in fish catch could cover the protein needs of an additional 90 million people. Food loss and waste from aquatic ecosystems is to a great extent caused by prevailing management practices. A shift to ecosystem approaches in fisheries could avert such loss and waste by reducing the degradation of aquatic ecosystems, curbing overfishing and allowing fish stocks to recover.
Food provisioning by aquatic ecosystems Aquatic ecosystems, including rivers and lakes, inland seas, floodplains, estuaries, coastal lagoons and open oceans, are the source of multiple ecosystem services and human benefits. The aquatic ecosystems deliver supporting and regulating services such as nutrient cycling, atmospheric and climate regulation and biological regulation. Mangroves are a source of wood, provide nursery for juvenile fish and other marine organisms and provide protection from storms, flooding and soil erosion. Wetlands are important conservation areas and floodplains are used for agriculture (MA 2005). More importantly, aquatic ecosystems are a crucial source of food and provide livelihood for many people across the globe. Fisheries, including aquaculture, support the livelihoods of an estimated 180 million people (FAO 2012d). Ninety per cent of those employed in the fisheries sector work in small-scale enterprises, of which women constitute a significant part (World Bank 2012). Fish are not only important for livelihoods, but also provide a crucial and affordable source of protein, especially in developing countries. In 2009, 145 million tonnes of fish were caught or farmed through aquaculture globally, of which about 122 million tonnes were used as food for people (FAO 2012d). In 2010, the estimated annual per capita fish consumption was 18.6 kilogrammes as compared to 9.9 kilogrammes in the 1960s (FAO 2012d). Africa consumes the least amount of fish per person while Asia is responsible for two-thirds of all fish consumption globally with China representing about half of the fish consumed in this region (FAO 2012d). It is estimated that fish provide about 10 per cent of human calorie intake globally (Nellemann et al. 2009). In 2008 fish represented 15 per cent of the average protein intake of more than 3 billion people (FAO 2011b). The state of the world’s fisheries World fisheries have gone through drastic expansion over the last 50 years. Between 1950 and 1990 there was a fourfold
increase in the global fish catch. Since then, the total amount of fish, shellfish and crab caught in the seas has remained more or less constant, while aquaculture has grown steadily at an annual growth rate of 8.8 per cent between 1980 and 2010 (FAO 2012b; Schäfer et al. 2010). The intense use of fish stocks that are commercially exploited worldwide has come at a cost. According to estimates made by the FAO more than half of the world’s fish stocks are categorized as fully exploited and 30 per cent as overexploited (FAO 2012b). The fishing capacity of the European Union’s fishing fleet has been estimated to be two to three times the size oceans can sustainably support (European Commission 2008). Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is perhaps just as, or more, significant than overfishing. Though difficult to estimate, expertssuggestthattheannualillegalcatch isbetween11 and26 million tonnes (Schmidt et al. 2013). Overfishing causes a total net loss of about US$50 million annually (World Bank 2009), and based on calculations from Sirinivasan et al. (2010), had