Posted on 23 December 2019
Seafood products are the most highly traded food commodity internationally, and the trade continues to grow.
The biggest markets for seafood (by value) are the European Union (EU), the United States of America (US) and Japan, with the EU importing approximately 70% of the seafood it consumes. Given the size of the EU, American and Japanese markets, these countries have a responsibility to ensure that their purchasing power is not fueling overfishing in seafood producing countries or the trade of illegally caught products. Implementing legal frameworks in both producer and importer countries in the face of accelerating climate change, and integrating adaptive measures into strategies and national policies are now crucial steps to support international commitments under the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), including Zero Hunger (SDG 2) and Life Below Water (SDG 14). To achieve this, WWF calls on governments to provide global leadership on ocean governance and urges industry and other stakeholders to intensify efforts towards sustainable fisheries and ecosystem-based management of our ocean..
This WWF policy brief describes how climate change is impacting fisheries and food security, and highlights the role of international governance in mitigating these impacts for both developed and developing countries, for those nations who are predominantly importers as well as for those who export. Seafood is the primary protein source for an estimated three billion people globally, while an equal number depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods.
Global seafood consumption has more than doubled over the past 50 years with up to 200 million tonnes of fish predicted to be taken from the sea annually by 2030. In addition to the increasing demand on ocean resources, scientists warn that warmer marine environments make it more difficult for species to recover their populations, due to shifting habitats and food webs. In an ocean warming scenario of over 1.5°C, global catch potential is projected to decrease by over 3 million tonnes for every additional degree of warming.
Despite mounting evidence, very little has been done thus far to mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change to marine life and ensure future resilience of our fisheries and seafood supply. Indeed, strengthening adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries will support sustainable economies, benefitting both humanity and the ocean.