The Blue Food Assessment (BFA) is providing decision makers with scientific research to help them evaluate aquatic food systems and integrate them into sustainable food systems solutions.
Dr. Rosamond Naylor, Co-Chair of the BFA, tells Food Tank that stakeholders tend to separate conversations about aquatic and agricultural systems. “I think it’s because fishers and aquaculture have been considered to be more of a natural resource and not a food.” But, Naylor argues, they are important part of global food systems.
The BFA was launched as as initiative of the Stockholm Resilience Center, Stanford University, and EAT to better understand the role that aquatic foods, also known as blue foods, play in global food systems.
Naylor explains that the blue food sector comprises “an incredibly large number” of small scale actors, ranging from communities catching fish to distributors selling products to consumers. Through the BFA, “we want to leverage the real potential of small scale actors, so that we can improve income distribution along the full chain,” Naylor tells Food Tank.
To do this, Naylor says it was important to take a nuanced approach to fisheries that examines the argument that communities have overfished all aquatic ecosystems. “It’s not actually true. There’s a lot of fisheries that aren’t overfished, and what we want to do is be able to reward those fishing communities and those fishermen and women who are doing things more sustainably.”
The BFA also looks closely at role of blue foods, which contain valuable micronutrients, in consumers’ diets. As part of one study, Naylor says, authors began assembling a database of thousands of fish species.
“The database is available to everybody to now use, and work with, and really think: how do we use our knowledge that we’ve gained and assessment to actually craft interventions and strategies to improve nutrition security?”
Listen to the full conversation with Rosamond Naylor on “Food Talk with Dani Nierenberg” to hear more about the effects of the climate crisis on the fishing industry, challenges to building equity in the blue food sector, and the future of seaweed production in the food system.
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Photo courtesy of Cassiano Psomas, Unsplash