Climate change: growing inequalities in catch – Climate change, with global fisheries having declined since 1990 and further declines predicted, exacerbates inequalities in the availability of nutrients from fish products. Mariculture, although expanding, only partially compensates for these losses. Particularly in low-income countries, marine fish are a crucial and cheap source of dietary micronutrients, essential for physical and mental development.
Fish consumption is promoted worldwide for its health benefits, but fisheries production peaked in the 1990s, with significant overfishing of the world’s fish stocks. Meanwhile, mariculture expanded rapidly to meet the growing demand for fish products. However, climate change has affected exploited marine species, altering their distribution and productivity and changing the catch composition. These climate impacts are expected to continue into the 21st century.
An interesting study, published in 2023, focuses on four nutrients crucial to human health found in seafood: calcium, iron, omega-3 fatty acids and protein.
It combines global databases of fishing catches and marine production with taxa-specific estimates of nutrient content in marine fish and invertebrates. Projections from climate, fisheries and mariculture models are integrated to assess the impacts of climate change on global and regional fish nutrient availability.
The results show a stagnation in the global availability of nutrients from capture fisheries in recent decades. Increasing utilisation of fish production by reducing dependence on fishmeal and fish oil for aquaculture and livestock production could partially mitigate climate impacts on fish production. However, at the regional level, low-income countries will face significant food security challenges unless international agreement is reached to limit global warming.
Climate change may compromise not only the availability of nutrients from fish products, but also agricultural production.
The study emphasises the importance of nutrient- and climate-sensitive management policies, with the need for food-based trade policies to avoid negative impacts on malnutrition and public health. The research indicates that limiting global warming below 2 degrees Celsius is crucial to reduce nutrient losses in the agriculture and fisheries sectors, especially in tropical and low-income countries that are most vulnerable to such changes.
Climate change: growing inequalities in catch