A new international study released on Thursday showed how the world’s fisheries could be better utilized to tackle the widespread issue of malnutrition in the developing world.
The study, led by Lancaster University in Britain, involved researchers from Australia’s Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS).
They concluded that people, particularly children living in coastal areas in the developed world, would benefit greatly if just a fraction of the fish caught nearby were diverted onto their tables.
According to “Our research shows that nutrients currently fished out of their waters exceed the dietary requirements for all under 5-year-olds within their coastal band lead author Professor Christina Hicks of Lancaster University’s Environment Centre.
If those catches were more accessible locally, they could have a huge impact on global food security and combat malnutrition-related disease in millions of people.”
With over 2 billion people suffering from micronutrient deficiencies, leading to maternal mortality and stunted growth, the world’s fisheries provide omega-3 fatty acids and important micronutrients such as Iron, Zinc and Calcium.
Hicks and her team examined the nutritional value of over 367 fish species from 43 countries and found that the nutrient quality of fisheries is determined by the composition of species rather than the raw quantity of fish.
With the information, they created a database to give a clear indication of available nutrition.
The data showed that the fish being caught off the coast of West Africa, where people suffer from high levels of nutritional deficiency, was enough to meet the nutritional needs of all the people living within 100 km of the coast.
IMAS’s Centre for Marine Socioecology researcher Dr. Kirsty Nash said the research shows the possibility for local solutions to local problems.
“As demand for ocean resources has increased to the limit of what can be harvested sustainably, projects like this show that there are opportunities to fish strategically to address fundamental challenges to human health and wellbeing,” Nash said.