Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Economist Advises to Brace for Continuing Change in Seafood Industry

Economic success for specific wild fisheries in the future will depend on management that enables sustainability, efficiency, innovation and market orientation throughout the supply chain, according to fisheries economist Gunnar Knapp.

“Think in terms of the entire supply chain, with everyone in the supply chain depending on everyone else,” he advised during a presentation, in late July, to the biennial meeting of the International Institute of Fisheries Economics and Trade in Seattle, Wash. “And think broadly,” said Knapp, professor emeritus of economics at the University of Alaska Anchorage, citing a World Bank report on the prospects for fisheries and aquaculture through 2030.

The report projects that aquaculture will produce about two-thirds of food fish, that China will consume nearly 40 percent of all seafood, and the production of tilapia and shrimp will more than double., In addition, it predicts that aquaculture will more than double in India, Latin America and Southeast Asia, while per capita consumption of fish in Sub-Sahara Africa will decline.

“The question is not just how much fish can we catch or grow, but how much fish do people want to buy,” he said. To that end he compared the differences between wild fisheries and aquaculture, noting for example that the potential for growth in aquaculture is high, while the potential for growth in wild fisheries is low. “There are also more communities historically dependent on wild fisheries who would be less receptive to innovation, compared to those historically less dependent, and more receptive to innovation,” he noted.

“Economic factors, particularly population and income growth, are likely to drive growth in aquaculture production and consumption and changes in the geographic distribution of production and consumption. Fish politics, meanwhile, will figure in total allowable catches, open access versus rights-based management, marine protected areas and quota allocations, while “regular” politics will impact trade, labor, immigration, environmental regulation and food safety” he added.

“My guess is that globally fish and aquaculture politics will gradually shift to enable fisheries and aquaculture to better respond to future opportunities and challenges” Knapp said.

He also added that changes in ocean conditions, including temperatures, currents and acidification, will also directly impact wild fisheries and aquaculture, as well as global food markets. And while resource uncertainty will remain a fundamental and possibly growing constraint to wild fisheries, aquaculture will be relatively less vulnerable to nature-driven changes.

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