Sea food for all? Comments please!
sea food for all?
Sea food for all… but how?

We are facing a global crisis in food and nutrition.

The human population of the planet was one billion in 1804. It took 123 years to add a further billion. By 2000 the figure was six billion. After 10 more years another billion was added. Soon the population will be eight billion, then nine billion… So where is all the extra food going to come from?

The solution posed to meet the lack of arable land to feed the population of the immediate future is more intensification and genetic modification of foods. But in recent time something has gone wrong with the basic food system:

  • Contemporary food production systems neglect sea-derived, brain-specific fatty nutrients – DHA in particular – and the essential trace elements needed by the brain. Production is based on protein and calories: i.e. on the nutrient requirements for body growth and weight gain, not brain development.
  • There are two billion people at risk of iodine deficiency disease, the commonest cause of mental retardation. As iodine and brain-specific fatty acids co-exist in the marine food web, this means the same number of people are deficient in DHA.
  • One of the problems has been the increasing focus on the production of land-based foods. We need a balance of land and sea food if we are to maintain our intelligence and mental health. We can’t get the brain-specific nutritional resources we need from the land alone. Further intensification of land, as currently proposed, will make the situation worse.

However, based on our current hunter-gatherer approach to sea fishing, there is simply not enough sea food to provide the required amount of brain-specific nutrients for the present seven billion people on the planet, never mind the billions more to come in the future.

So what is the solution? Can we somehow increase the quantity of sea food – a scientific version of the biblical story of the three loaves and two fish that fed 5,000 people?

The conversation starts here. Please leave any comments or thoughts in the box below.


  1. Michael Crawford

    Agreed. A quantum leap is required but it is not a difficult one. The Japanese have made a start. and the Chinese are world leaders in fresh water fisheries as well as having had kelp in production for thousands of years. . And yes agreed fresh water fish farming is definitely a way forward. The rivers and lakes used to contain abundant trout and the like. However the size is limited. The oceans account for 71% of the planet’s surface.

    Over fishing is idiotic. Pollution of lakes, rivers and coasts is unpardonable. It needs to stop. The problem is we are using the oceans with a Neanderthal mentality of hunting and gathering. Our pollution makes it worse. In my life time, the Firth of Forth a once great fishing and sea food resource has gone – Edinburgh and industry.. Aquaculture which means feeding fish to fish has now reached the point of having to use land based vegetable oils and I heard they are also using chicken meat. Love to know if that is true – if so where and who?

    The solution as I see it is marine agriculture as they are developing in Japan. This means growing sea grass pastures on the sea bed for fish just like the way we grow grass pastures of sheep and cattle on land.. They have developed artificial reefs designed to merge with the behaviour and feeding grounds of specific species. You can grow kelp forests

    This is essentially farming in the sea, It is sustainable as it does not rely on feed input. Sunlight and the mineral wealth of the sea does it. As with land based agriculture you can develop sea plants to optimise productivity. Planting sea pastures also provides a safe zone for tiny juvenile fish so enhancing survival rates. .

    Moreover there is a triple benefit. (1) fertiliser for land crops (2) Health: the brain evolved in the sea 500 million years ago using the omega 3 DHA. for its signalling structures and function. It sill uses and needs the same. The rise in mental ill-health is a consequence of focussing the food system on protein and calories – good for body growth but lacking in brain specific nutrients. The brain is made mainly of fat requiring highly specialised essential fatty acids.. The marine omega 3 are also good for heart and immune system health. (3) A counter to global warming – shell fish trap and sequester CO2 in a big way, Restoration of the great oyster beds world wide after cleaning the estuaries would be like planting rain forests..

    Thank you

  2. Pavel Bezdek

    It requires a quantum leap in aquaculture. In my home country, Czech Republic, there is a certain amount of self-sufficiency based on fish ponds and fishing permits, which is one way forward. One huge problem I see with sea fishing is somehow accommodating and perhaps compensating those fishing communities in Europe that rely on overfishing a depleted sea to earn their meagre income.


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