Aquaculture provides food security to UK

Boosting aquaculture production in England could provide food security solutions for the country, said presenters at a recent UK government-sponsored workshop.

Soaring food prices in 2008 and 2009 have compelled governments worldwide to take a sharper look at the issue of food security — a population’s access to affordable, safe and nutritious food.

In terms of security, global wild fish stocks are “very unfavorable,” according to workshop organizers the Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science (Cefas) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), citing a recent assessment of UK food security.

“Yet, increased English aquaculture production could help to contribute to increased local production as a means of securing future supply, supporting local economies and delivering a carbon-efficient outcome,” said the organizers.

By 2035 the UK population is forecast to rise to 71 million, meaning 10 million more mouths must be fed 25 years from now.

“If this recommendation were followed, it would require an additional 20 million portions of fish or shellfish per week,” said Cefas, noting that the UK government recommends consumers eat two portions of fish a week.

Aquaculture, they added, could play a role in addressing the protein needs of an increased population, with finfish production “the most efficient animal production by quantity of feed to produced food.”

According to Cefas, 1 ton of feed produces almost 1 ton of fish, compared to 150 kilograms of beef, 300 kilograms of pork and 500 kilograms of chicken. Globally, aquaculture now accounts for 47 percent of all seafood consumed.

In England and Wales, rainbow trout is the main farmed finfish species,  with 7,294 tons produced annually. In 2006, the two combined to produce 8,127 tons of fish. There is also limited production of other species, such as brown trout (441 tons), carp (175 tons), turbot (63.5 tons), Atlantic salmon (63 tons), barramundi (45 tons) and tilapia (33 tons).

Mussels are the main shellfish species cultivated at 14,553 tons in 2006, out of a total 15,449 tons for all farmed shellfish, with oysters (880 tons) accounting for the remainder.

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