1. Animal Husbandry

A Global Need for Exploiting Huge Potential of Marine Fisheries to Help Tackle Nutrient Deficiencies

Dr. Lakshmi Unnithan
Dr. Lakshmi Unnithan

According to World Data the total number of individuals across the globe who are defined as undernourished is based on the definitions of insufficient caloric intake. As you see the depth of people affected over the last few years (2015 to 2017), has increased by around 40 million, reaching 821 million in 2017. The UN FAO have linked this increase in undernourishment in particular to the rising extent of conflict-affected countries (which is often a leading cause of famine) and compounded by climate-related factors such as the El Niño phenomenon (which can inflict both drought and flood conditions).

Millions of people are suffering from malnutrition despite some of the most nutritious fish species in the world being caught near their homes, according to new research published in Nature. There is a huge potential of marine fisheries to help tackle nutrient deficiencies suffered by millions in coastal areas. If only a fraction of the fish caught in the tropical region was diverted towards diets, the change we could possibly see in their health improvements is huge. Omega-3 fatty acids in fish are also a source of important micronutrients, for example iron, zinc, and calcium. Yet, more than 2 billion people worldwide suffer from micronutrient deficiencies, which are linked to maternal mortality, stunted growth, and pre-eclampsia. For some nations in Africa, such deficiencies are estimated to reduce GDP by up to 11%.


This new research suggests enough nutrients are already being fished out of the oceans to substantially reduce malnutrition and, at a time when the world is being asked to think more carefully about where and how we produce our food, fishing more may not be the answer. The Lancaster University-led research team, collected data on the concentration of seven nutrients in more than 350 species of marine fish and developed a statistical model for predicting how much nutrition any given species of fish contains, based on their diet, sea water temperature and energy expenditure.

This predictive modelling, led by Aaron MacNeil of Dalhousie University, allowed researchers to accurately predict the likely nutrient composition of thousands of fish species that have never been nutritionally analyzed before. Using current fish landings data, they used this model to quantify the global distribution of nutrients available from existing marine fisheries. This information was then compared with the prevalence of nutrient deficiencies around the world. Their results showed important nutrients were readily available in the fish already being caught but they were not reaching many local populations, who were often most in need.

Researchers say that a complex picture of international and illegal fishing, trade in seafood - along with cultural practices and norms - are standing between malnourished people and the more-than-adequate fish nutrients caught on their doorstep.

The study highlights the need for fish policies that are focused on improving nutrition rather than simply increasing volumes of food produced or the revenues generated from fish exports.

The above article is made on terms of the Press Release with respect to the paper ‘Harnessing global fisheries to tackle micronutrient deficiencies’ is published in Nature

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