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FAO fish predictions backed up by new Lancet report

But Arni Mathiesen, assistant director general at the FAO, calls again for more to be done on high-seas governance and on combating IUU fishing.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has seen its predictions related to production, demand and consumption of fish validated by a new report from The Lancet.

As the global population moves towards nine billion, it has been estimated that global food production must increase by at least 60 percent by 2030, says the FAO.

The increase in food production includes an estimated 200 million tons to 260 million metric tons of fish, mostly to be produced through aquaculture, said Arni Mathiesen, assistant director general, at the FAO.

“We all know there is a limit to capture fisheries,” said Mathiesen. “We have reached that upper limit and cannot expect to get much more so the additional fish has to come from aquaculture.”

These predictions from the FAO have been backed by by a new report from the EAT-Lancet Commission – one that presents a global planetary health diet that is healthy for both people and planet.

“First time the two concepts of a healthy diet and an environmentally friendly diet have been put together and proposed as a way to live lives healthily while respecting planetary boundaries, said Mathiesen.

“It is interesting to see the outcome.”

While it is not particularly radical, fish is an “emphasis food” in this change EAT-Lancet is proposing.

Mathiesen offered these predictions four years ago on production, demand, consumption of fish – which all fell within 200 million to 260 million of tons of fish a year.

Today we cannot see any contradictions on this from the Lancet report, which means we can embrace the report and follow, knowing we are pursuing a path both healthy and sustainable.”

FAO is currently working on sustainable aquaculture guidelines.

Aside from aquaculture, the FAO is still focused on combating illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

It is focused on promoting better high seas governance and increasing political will from global nations to fight IUU – including “pushing very strongly” the Port State Measures Agreement.

“Illegal fishing in the high seas is not the biggest part of total catch, in fact it is relatively small, but it is a very important part,” said Mathiesen.

“There are ethical issues, but we know how to solve them, and have to solves them.”

While general governance on IUU fishing has improved, especially in developed countries in the Northern hemisphere, the situation isn’t the same in Southern hemisphere, said Mathiesen.

“Some of the problems from the North have moved into South, for example, excess fishing that was in the North is now excess fishing capacity in the South.

“This needs to be solved if we are not going to permanently accept that one third of stocks are overfished – this is unacceptable and we need to put all our efforts into solving it.”

“We know it is solvable and how to do it, but we need political help to bring it down to zero and make supply from capture fisheries a more secure one than it is today.”

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