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Are We Prepared for Increased Demand?

Are We Prepared for Increased Demand?

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By FishProf

According to WorldFish study we learn of an extreme shift in dietary habits in India. This research investigated the dynamics of fish consumption in India from 2005 to 2021, using comprehensive, nationally representative surveys conducted by the Government of India.

We are all aware that China is a dynamo in seafood production and last year it was reported that a senior researcher at China’s Ministry of Agriculture said that it will continue its current status as a net importer for the near future.

Xie Zhongmin, deputy head of research at the Agriculture Trade Promotion Center within the ministry stated “The potential for seafood imports will be fully unleashed soon” highlighting that a ‘structural gap’ in supply and demand, as well as lower tariffs, is driving China’s demand for imported seafood.

Now, according to WorldFish study we learn of an extreme shift in dietary habits in India. This research investigated the dynamics of fish consumption in India from 2005 to 2021, using comprehensive, nationally representative surveys conducted by the Government of India.

 Are We Prepared for Increased Demand?

It reveals significant growth in fish consumption in India, driven by population growth, increased wealth and shifting consumption patterns. The findings suggest potential for further growth and highlight regional disparities that could inform policy and intervention strategies.

When you delve deeper into the figures you see that from 2005 to 2021 there was an 81.43% increase in per capita fish consumption in India, along with a 32% growth in the fish consuming population. Such news grabs media attention so the study has been well promoted.

“The impacts will have massive consequences for policy settings in India and countries who rely on imports from India. More importantly this emphasizes the essential role that aquatic foods play in improving nutrition, employment, and trade.”

At the same time, it will be critical for India to consider how they connect environment, social, governance and health (ESGH) issues into their programs to produce sustainable aquatic food into the future.

The expanding middle classes in India are the drivers of this wave of increased fish/seafood consumption and this adds fuel to the premonitions that by 2030, Asia might be 66% of the world middle class population.

In their “Developments and Fore casts of Growing Consumerism” paper the European Union predicted that by 2030, over 70% of China’s population could be middle class, consuming nearly USD 10 trillion in goods and services and India could be the world’s largest middle class consumer market, surpassing both China and the USA.

By contrast the middle-class market in advanced economies is projected to grow at only 0.5%-1.0% per year, while the dynamic middle class market in emerging economies could register annual growth rates of 6% or more.

 Are We Prepared for Increased Demand?

The importance of middle classes is that they are more aware of health, well-being, and nutrition; have travelled and are refining their palates and fish/seafood is a smart choice for them, especially as they have more disposable income.

FishProf is all about increasing fish/seafood consumption and the above just underlines the predictions made in the OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2020-2029. It just makes sense that governments support fish/seafood and other aquatic foods as higher consumption of these foods in general, offers a myriad of health benefits, bursting with essential micronutrients, vital proteins, and omega-3 fatty acids.

“They also are proven to have low CO2 emissions when compared with traditional land-based food systems (Koehn et al., 2022).”

Generally, with “change” there is a trigger point and India’s news about increased fish consumption trends may just be that signal to the world that there is a need for everyone to consider dietary change.

FishProf has been travelling to India since 2009 when Chair of the WAS-APC Conference in Kochi, Kerala (2011) where the theme was “Aquaculture – The Future is Here”; this event was a catalyst in many ways in that it brought many internationals to who engaged with the locals.

“Since then, many things have occurred, especially a Blue Economy Policy written by India’s government which is, in many ways world leading and, no doubt, has an impact on decision making.”

In that policy document India’s Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, is quoted as saying “To me the Blue Chakra or wheel in India’s national flag represents the potential of Blue Revolution or the Ocean Economy. That is how central the ocean economy is to us.”

The penny is dropping that aquatic foods are both a malnutrition and a climate solution. To maximize their full potential and ensure shared prosperity, our efforts must continue to ensure a collective commitment to nurturing our planet, Ocean. The question is can we prepare for increased demand and stay in the sustainability sweet spot?

Critical Need to Increase Aquatic Food Production and Supply

A well-timed paper has been published reviewing the total aquatic food supply from aquaculture and capture fisheries from 2010 to 2020 at global, regional, and national levels within main producing countries destined for direct human consumption (Tacon & Shumway, 2024).

This paper highlights the total combined aquatic animal food supply from aquaculture and capture fisheries has increased on a global basis from 18.59 to 20.49 kg/capita over the past decade but the global supply has not kept up with population growth over the same period.

The paper emphasizes the concerns of a decrease in fish and seafood food supply within the African region (decreasing from 10.40 to 9.58 kg/capita), while population growth increased by 3.12%/year over the same period.

“In addition, the Asian region was the only region where per capita fish and seafood food supply exceeded population growth; the bulk of fish and seafood supply being sourced from increased aquaculture production of primarily freshwater fish species, compared with other regions where marine wild fisheries still dominated fish and seafood supply.”

Fish and seafood supply in leading aquaculture and capture fisheries producing countries (including China, Indonesia, India, Viet Nam, Bangladesh, South Korea, Japan, and USA) between 2010 and 2020, are presented and demonstrate growth in per capita fish and seafood supply being lower than human population growth in Ecuador, Philippines, Turkey, Chile, Norway, Brazil, Myanmar, the South Korea, and Japan.

Tacon & Shumway conclude that “If aquatic food supplies from aquaculture and inland/marine capture fisheries are to make an increasing global contribution to healthy diets, then the increased production and market availability of these products needs to be promoted by governments and actively encouraged and stimulated, particularly within the African continent.”

 Are We Prepared for Increased Demand?

Furthermore, we all need to be aware that if aquatic fish and seafood supplies from aquaculture and capture fisheries are to make an increasing global contribution to healthy diets (FAO & WHO, 2019; Ahern et al., 2021; Naylor et al., 2021; Costa-Pierce et al., 2022; Peng et al., 2023; Tacon et al., 2020), then the increased sustainable production (in the case of aquaculture) and consumption of aquatic food products, needs to be stimulated and encouraged.

An example could be on the African continent where the increased production and consumption of non-fed species (such as farmed mollusks and aquatic plants) should be actively promoted and encouraged.

“Farmed mollusks and plants supplied less than 1% of the total aquatic food supply in 2020, with production not being dependent upon the external provision of compound feed inputs (Chopin & Tacon, 2020; Peng et al., 2024).”

Clearly, increased sustainable aquaculture production and enhanced sustainably managed capture fisheries production should be promoted by African governments and actively promoted to provide a healthy and sustainable food source for the global population to help combat malnutrition and address food security – a growing issue and concern with increasing climate-related impacts on food supply chains.

The involvement of mollusks and plants will assist with the issue of ecological degradation and water pollution and the need for reliance on feeds, but more work will be required vital habitats like mangroves.

“The predictions are that by 2029 aquaculture production will surpass 105 million tons, beating the wild capture sector by 10 million tons, but will this be enough?”

The FishProf believes we should be aiming for seafood consumption of 30 kg/head globally by 2030, but for that to happen, we will need to see more countries adopt positive policies, like India; industry will need to bring more innovation and productivity and financiers must engage and invest in aquatic foods.

Securing the Vision’30 by 2030’

A keystone to achieving this vision will be investment in sustainable aquaculture practices. It holds the key to securing the livelihoods of millions of aquaculturists and small-scale fish ers by providing them with a stable income while conserving biodiversity.

FishProf has taken an interest in many aquaculture innovation areas and appreciates that many companies are engaging in helping aquaculture take new steps in knowledge of data collection. Shrimps, for example, promote that they can significantly lower shrimp farming’s impact by up to 40% and have a carbon footprint model enabling investors to make in formed ESGH calculations.

Policymakers must create innovative regulations that incentivize sustainable practices, whilst researchers and businesses must drive innovation and governments must make rigorous efforts to promote all forms/ sectors of the industry.

The blue economy provides a sustainability framework for ocean governance, but there is no clarity that the talk is matched by actions as pointed out in the paper “Mapping flows of blue economy finance: ambitious narratives, opaque actions, and social equity risks” (Schutter et al., 2024).

 Are We Prepared for Increased Demand?

Investment disparities in the blue economy must be rectified. This research shows that the aquatic foods sector is receiving only minor investments. If you compare sectors like offshore wind energy, which amounts to USD 3.1 billion or 10% of its current industry size as against USD 585 million or less than 1% of its industry size for aquatic foods.

We must prioritize aquatic food systems, steering capital to support research, development, and scaling in this critical area. There is evidence that offshore wind projects could easily adopt aquatic food partners as part of their program but unless those who dole out the money start to understand that concept, they will be failing society.

The analysis in this paper reveals widespread occurrence of “red flags” for social equity outcomes. The findings show disconnects between finance and narratives of equity, inclusion, and sustainability.

A baseline for critical examination of blue finance flows in delivering equity and environmental sustainability is included in the paper which analyses blue-economy-labelled money flows disbursed between 2017 and 2021 to identify sources and recipients and potential social equity impacts on the ground.

We must do better if we are going to grasp the challenges and opportunities but, in the meantime, sincere congratulations for India in showing us the way.

FishProf

References and sources consulted by the author on the elaboration of this article are available under previous request to our editorial staff.
Regular contributor The Fishmonger has now morphed into FishProf and will continue contributing to AQUACULTURE but also welcomes all the readers to connect through www.fishprof.com and join in our promotions to increase seafood consumption globally.

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