Mental Health in Spotlight at Aquaculture Europe 2017

Aquaculture Europe 2017 Photo credit: jonkriz via Visual hunt / CC BY
Photo credit: jonkriz via Visual hunt / CC BY

Aquaculture Europe 2017, organised by the European Aquaculture Society and with the theme ‘Cooperation for growth’, took place October 17-20 2017 in Dubrovnik. The Mother and Child Foundation’s Professor Michael Crawford was one of the key speakers.

Professor Crawford’s talk was titled ‘Is substitution of fishmeal and fish oil compromising our omega 3 position?’ A deficiency of omega 3 in diets is linked to an increase in mental disorders, a decline in IQ and a rise in anti-social behaviour.

The talk succinctly summarised many of the facts and issues we continue to cover on this website:

  • The success of Homo sapiens as a species is down to the evolution of the human brain
  • The brain is composed of 60 per cent fat, derived from the ‘marine food web’
  • The brain evolved in the sea over 500 million years, using DHA, an omega 3 fatty acid
  • The chemistry of the brain over time has remained more or less the same – compelling evidence of the essentiality of DHA
  • The first humans lived by the sea, and we could not have evolved on the savannahs, where there is little DHA available
  • DHA is irreplaceable in brain structure, and yet our diets increasingly rely on land-derived omega-6 ‘storage’ fats, which do not provide DHA
  • Feeding farmed fish on a plant/land-derived diet further diminishes levels of DHA

It’s up to us

Online bulletin FISHupdate‘s  reported from the event:

“Crawford painted a grim picture of the consequences of this trend, saying that brain disorders, ‘although beneath the radar’, are now the greatest challenge to human health, and there is a global crisis in nutrition.

To address this, the seas and oceans must be agriculturalised. Some 10,000 years ago we developed agriculture on land and now that ‘homo sapiens is threatened’, we must develop agriculture in the 70 per cent of the world’s surface that is covered by sea.

At present, man ‘is using the oceans in a Neanderthal way’, hunting and gathering, but increasing consumption of DHA can’t come from capture fisheries.

Crawford’s vision is for a new, marine, industrial revolution, with the creation of artificial reefs for ‘pasture development’, as is happening in Japan, and greater exploitation of coastlines.

The UK, for instance, has 19,000 miles of coastline – including ‘some of those unpopulated islands around Scotland’ – which could be put to use.

‘We have a staggering potential to meet our food needs… we need to get it right, and it’s up to you,’ he told his audience of international aquaculture delegates.”

See Professor Crawford’s video presentations for further insights.

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