The Association for the Advancement of Science, known as the “triple A-S” among the scientific cognoscenti, tracks, as its name suggests, the advancing frontier of knowledge. The most important discoveries are culled for publication in its journal, Science.
The current issue is on my desk beside me today, and it includes an important and sobering report. It used cutting edge statistical analysis to look at fisheries with limited data, mostly those in the developing world. And it found that fisheries in the developing world are largely in terrible shape.
The good news is that, as this report confirms, fisheries that put in place sensible management measures do come back and become abundant once again. This is important because these declining fisheries are an essential source of food to hundreds of millions of people.
Stopping the collapse of these fisheries is what motivates us here at Oceana. We do that by winning and enforcing national policies that require scientifically sound fishing quotas, protect nursery habitat, and reduce bycatch (the accidental killing of non-target species). This issue of Oceana brings you more news of our progress on all fronts.
Managing ocean fisheries better so they can feed more people is the most achievable global conservation opportunity of our time. It’s also a food security opportunity vital to the 1 billion people already suffering from hunger and malnutrition. And with human population on track to reach 9 billion by 2050, this food resource is essential to all of us.
Well-managed oceans can feed 700 million people a healthy seafood meal every day in the year 2050.
And they can do so cost-effectively. Marine fish are, on a per pound basis, the most cost- effective animal protein on the planet. Compare them to pork, cattle, poultry – you name it – and wild ocean fish are, on average, the most affordable animal protein.
In addition, a healthy ocean reduces the cutting of forests and lessens demands for fresh water.
That’s because terrestrial livestock is fed vast amounts of grain, and those grain fields need irrigation. A hungry world demands animal protein, and if the oceans collapse, livestock production will increase even faster. Livestock production equal to the wild fisheries of a well-managed ocean would require 200 million acres of grain fields – an area equal to half of all the cultivated land in the United States, or an area greater than Turkey, or an area nearly three times the US area currently planted in corn. New farm fields will inevitably require more cutting of forests.
So if you’re contributing to Oceana, you’re not only helping to save the world’s oceans and to feed hundreds of millions of hungry people. You’re also helping to save the world’s forests.