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Re-Tooling Marine Food Supply Resilience in a Climate Change Era: Some Needed Reforms

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Document pages: 47 pages

Abstract: Ocean fisheries and marine aquaculture are an important but often overlooked component of world food security. For example, of the seven billion (and counting) people on the planet, over one billion depend on fish as their primary source of protein, and fish is a critical source of protein (30 percent or more of protein consumed) in many specific countries around the world, including several countries in Africa, Japan, Greenland, Taiwan, Indonesia, and several South Pacific island nations. Marine fisheries and marine aquaculture have been subject to a number of stressors that can undermine world food security, including overfishing, habitat destruction, and pollution. However, climate change poses new and significant threats to marine fisheries and aquaculture that could both reduce the global marine food resource base and render ineffective current fisheries management. As a result, the resilience of the marine food supply into the future is very much in question, threatening food security in sometimes insidious ways. This article first explores humans’ dependence on wild-caught marine fish and marine aquaculture before examining the emerging threats that climate change poses to wild fish stocks, marine aquaculture, and fisheries management. It then examines six ways that governments could internationally and individually re-tool marine-related governance systems to adapt to this climate change era, particularly by recognizing that fish stocks are increasingly likely to shift their ranges from historical norms and by recognizing that marine aquaculture may not be possible in all places. The article concludes, however, that while productive re-tooling is still possible, the world also needs to face the probability that marine fish and marine aquaculture will become increasingly unreliable sources of food (protein) and that resilience-focused governance policies for marine aquaculture in particular are increasingly important.

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