The oceans could become the source of more of humanity's food if steps are taken to expand and improve marine aquaculture, according to a study published in the December 2009 issue of BioScience.
As the world's population continues to grow, lack of fresh water and space mean that terrestrial agriculture is unlikely to be able to meet food demand, according to Carlos M. Duarte of the University of the Balearic Islands, Spain, and his seven coauthors. Freshwater aquaculture, which is largely confined to the tropics, is expanding, but its reliance on fresh water may limit long-term growth. Fisheries catches have been declining globally for two decades, and although conservation measures and a shift in consumption patterns could allow some recovery, marine aquaculture holds more potential for sustained growth.
Marine aquaculture is already on the rise: production has increased ten-fold over the past 30 years and is expected to exceed fisheries catches within 20 years. Yet Duarte and his colleagues argue that its continued growth will depend on adapting current techniques so that the food needed to feed marine animals is itself derived from marine aquaculture, rather than harvested from the wild or derived from agriculture. This goal is achievable, they maintain, if more animals low on the food chain are cultivated, including more plankton and algae. These could be used as food for both humans and for fish. New technology will also help, by allowing marine aquaculture operations to be expanded into more exposed, offshore locations. Although some environmental impacts can be expected from the expansion of marine aquaculture, these are modest compared to those resulting from food production on land.
After noon EST on December 1 and for the remainder of the month, the full text of the article will be available for free download through the copy of this Press Release available at http://www.aibs.org/bioscience-press-releases/
BioScience, published 11 times per year, is the journal of the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS). BioScience publishes commentary and peer-reviewed articles covering a wide range of biological fields, with a focus on "Organisms from Molecules to the Environment." The journal has been published since 1964. AIBS is an umbrella organization for professional scientific societies and organizations that are involved with biology. It represents some 200 member societies and organizations with a combined membership of about 250,000.
The complete list of peer-reviewed articles in the December 2009 issue of BioScience is as follows:
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