Seafood is sustainable and the nutrition it provides could be more than beef, pork, and chicken, says an article published in the online version of Communications Earth & Environment. Governmental policies to promote seafood in diets, and substitute other animal protein could help to improve food security in the future and help address climate change.
Meanwhile, at present, human diets need to become more nutritious, while reducing impact on the environment, to serve the exploding world population. Seafood is a good source of fatty acids, protein, vitamins, and minerals, and previous research demonstrates how replacing meat with seafood in diets has potential environmental benefits.
In fact, food policies to reduce carbon footprint of future diets are usually centered on plant-based ‘green diets’, and disregard the potential of seafood-based diets.
A team of researchers examined the nutrient density and climate impacts of wild-caught and farmed sources of seafood that are globally important, from a large range of aquaculture and fishery sources in 2015. It was found that wild-caught herring, salmon, mackerel, and anchovies, as well as farmed oysters and mussels, had the least climate impact relative to their nutritional value. The nutrient density of half seafood species analyzed was higher, and discharged fewer greenhouse gases than pork, beef, and chicken.
The difference in production and harvesting methods revealed how it creates large variability in the climate impact of each species. For example, to reduce emissions further, the fishing industry should use fuel-efficient fishing technologies and restore depleted stocks, while aquaculture manufactures more unfed fish and shellfish and finds more climate-friendly sources of fish feed.