Utilising small fish for global food security
Consumption of fish and its contribution to the diets, especially of low income populations and vulnerable groups, offers important means for improving nutrition. Despite this, fish is strikingly missing from strategies for reduction of nutrient deficiency, for example among pregnant and lactating women, children and poor people.
A growing body of evidence points towards the important role small pelagic fish species such as herring, mackerel, sardine and anchovy play for food security and good nutrition in developing countries. Small fish is often cheap and consumed whole from head to tail including heads, guts and bones, which are extremely rich in vitamins and minerals.
However, the fishing pressure on these species poses a serious governance challenge in many areas. The utilisation of small fish for human consumption also faces competition from feed production for the aquaculture and meat industries. It is therefore timely to focus on achieving a more sustainable and fair utilization of fish resources throughout the value chain from sea to pot as affordable and accessible food for an increasing world population.
New research initiative
With support from the University of Bergen's Strategic Programme for International Research and Education (SPIRE) the first workshop of the research network ‘Small Fish and Food Security (SFFS)’ 29-30 November brought together fisheries, nutrition and health researchers from a range of disciplines and institutions: University of Bergen (Departments of Geography, Biology and Medicine, Centre for International Health (CIH) and Department of Health Promotion); National Institute of Nutrition and Seafood Research (NIFES); University of Ghana; Wageningen University; University of Amsterdam, and the CGIAR organisation WorldFish Centre. Competence at a high level was exchanged among the participants in an attentive and constructive atmosphere across the disciplines.
EADI-conference in Bergen
The SFFS-network is currently developing research proposals on the contribution of small fish species to food and nutrition security. The network also participates with the panel ‘Zero Hunger and Life Below Water: Sustainable Utilization of Marine and Freshwater Resources for Global Food Security’ in the conference ‘Globalisation at the Crossroads: Rethinking Inequalitites and Boundaries’ organized by EADI (European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes), NFU (Norwegian Association of Development Research), Chr. Michelsen Institute and the University of Bergen next year.