Contribution of Fisheries to Food and Nutrition Security: Current Knowledge, Policy, and Research

Authors: Abigail Bennett, Pawan Patil, Kristin Kleisner, Doug Rader, John Virdin, and Xavier Basurto

Published: May 2018

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Publication Type: Report

In the context of the recently agreed-on United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes the goal to end hunger, achieve food security, and improve nutrition, this report synthesizes current understanding of capture fisheries’ contributions to food and nutrition security and explores drivers of those contributions. Capture fisheries produce more than 90 million metric tons of fish per year, providing the world’s growing population with a crucial source of food. Due to the particular nutritional characteristics of fish, fisheries represent far more than a source of protein. They provide essential micronutrients—vitamins and minerals—and omega-3 fatty acids, which are necessary to end malnutrition and reduce the burden of communicable and non-communicable disease around the world. Yet the contributions of fisheries may be undermined by threats such as overfishing, climate change, pollution, and competing uses for freshwater. To support the food and nutrition security contributions of capture fisheries, policies must be developed both to ensure the sustainability of resources and to recognize tradeoffs and synergies between conservation and food security objectives. A growing body of data and research focused specifically at the intersection of fisheries, nutrition, and food security can inform such efforts by improving understanding of fisheries’ production and distributional dimensions, consumption patterns, and nutritional aspects of fish in the context of healthy diets and sustainable food systems. This expanding body of knowledge can provide a basis for more directly considering fisheries in the food and nutrition security policy dialogue. This report serves as a contribution to the World Bank’s regional flagship report on ending malnutrition in South Asia, scheduled for release in October 2018.