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Responsible Aquaculture and Trophic Level Implications to Global Fish Supply

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Hunger and malnutrition remain among the most devastating problems facing the world's poor and needy, and continue to dominate the health and well-being of the world's poorest nations. Moreover, there are growing doubts as to the long-term sustainability of many existing food production systems, including capture fisheries and aquaculture, to meet the future increasing global demands. Of the different agricultural food production systems, aquaculture (the farming of aquatic animals and plants) is widely viewed as an important weapon in the global fight against malnutrition and poverty, particularly within developing countries where over 93% of global production is currently produced, providing in most instances an affordable and a much needed source of high quality animal protein, lipids, and other essential nutrients. The current article compares for the first time the development and growth of the aquaculture sector and capture fisheries by analyzing production by mean trophic level. Whereas marine capture fisheries have been feeding the world on high trophic level carnivorous fish species since mankind has been fishing the oceans, aquaculture production within developing countries has focused, by and large, on the production of lower trophic level species. However, like capture fisheries, aquaculture focus within economically developed countries has been essentially on the culture of high value-, high trophic level-carnivorous species. The long term sustainability of these production systems is questionable unless the industry can reduce its dependence upon capture fisheries for sourcing raw materials for feed formulation and seed inputs. In line with above, the article calls for the urgent need for all countries to adopt and adhere to the principles and guidelines for responsible aquaculture of the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.
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Keywords: Code of Conduct; FAO; aquaculture; fisheries; food supply; trophic level

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, The Canary Islands, Spain 2: Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Kaneohe, Hawaii, USA 3: School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Deakin University, Warrnambool, VIC, Australia 4: Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia-Pacific, Bangkok, Thailand

Publication date: January 1, 2010

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