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Oceana Magazine: Spring 2012

Save the Oceans and Feed the World

By Andy Sharpless and Suzannah Evans

What food requires no fresh water to produce? Produces little carbon dioxide? Doesn’t use up any arable land? And provides healthy, lean protein at a cost per pound lower than beef, chicken, lamb or pork, making it accessible to the world’s poor?

The answer: wild fish. And the humble fish will be critical to feeding the world in the coming decades as the human population continues to grow, passing 9 billion by 2050.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization says that the world must produce 70 percent more food to meet the coming hunger needs, from 270 million metric tons in 2009 to 470 million metric tons in 2050. But the resources needed to create that additional food are increasingly scarce or involve developing lands that have irreplaceable natural value, like rainforests. More frequent droughts due to climate change and the transfer of arable lands from agriculture to biofuels will also contribute to the declining land space available to grow crops and graze livestock.