Ocean Food Systems and Hybrid Seafood Production: Transdisciplinary Case Studies of Cod, Eels, Salmon, and Lobster

  • Barry Antonio Costa-Pierce Faculty of Biosciences and Aquaculture, Nord University, Bodø, Norway; Ecological Aquaculture Foundation, LLC, Biddeford, Maine, USA
Keywords: ocean food systems, fisheries, aquaculture, capture-based aquaculture, aquaculture enhanced fisheries, fed fisheries, proto-aquaculture


Capture fisheries and aquaculture are researched, planned, and managed throughout the world as if they are independent entities ignoring their complex and evolving interdependencies. Global attention on “blue foods” as an important part of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is focused on the restoration of capture fisheries and the sustainable expansion of aquaculture. Such a binary approach does not fit the current realities, opportunities, and innovations in ocean food systems (OFS), and does not integrate enough of the necessary transdisciplinary knowledge across professions. Integration of knowledge across professions is needed as modern ocean foods enter common marketplaces so interventions to increase sustainability must incorporate data on rural economic development, producers and their mixed ocean/land-based livelihoods and seasonal employment patterns, tourism, data on local to regional and global trade, and consumer behaviors. Four case studies detail the status and evolution of OFS typologies of American and spiny lobsters as fed fisheries, salmon as aquaculture-enhanced fisheries, and the capture-based aquacultures for cod and for eels. Objectives of this review were to examine for four OFS cases if there was adequate evidence to show that they were as productive, economically attractive, and as socially beneficial OFS that rival those of binary aquaculture or fisheries systems alone; and did they have significant potential to accelerate innovations as much as those sectors. For the four cases reviewed, productive, social and ecologically valuable, rapidly evolving OFS existed with demonstrable innovation trajectories. In the early part of this century it was estimated that capture-based aquaculture (CBA) accounted for about 20% of the total quantity of food fish production worth US$1.7 billion. Review of just four case studies having a limited number of participating countries found that annual value of the OFS exceeded US$4 billion: the value of eels as a capture-based aquaculture (CBA) was estimated US$2.3 billion for just two countries; for salmon as an aquaculture-enhanced fishery at $1.7 billion for only one state of the USA; and for lobsters as fed fisheries and a CBA, $825 million for the USA and Vietnam. However, OFS are disruptive as they require radically changed science, education, management, and development policies as current binary fisheries and aquaculture management approaches do not fit their current realities, or opportunities, or accelerate innovations, plus poorly integrate knowledge across professions. This was demonstrated by the example of dynamic management/regulatory situation for cod wild fisheries and the growing CBA for cod in Norway. The coming decades of accelerated climate and social changes will cause concomitant changes to ocean foods markets from local to global, and rural ocean foods livelihoods. These two systemic changes will drive the evolution and development of a greater diversity of OFS that will require much more attention of policy-makers and investors.


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