Selecting Seafood, Sustainably: Dietary Guidelines that Reflect Declining Fisheries and Limits to Aquaculture
Current recommendations in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) regarding seafood consumption are at odds with the Earth’s capacity to provide seafood. Americans consume an average of 3.5 ounces of seafood per week, and the 2010 DGA recommends increasing consumption to 8 ounces per week. Advising Americans to more than double seafood intake, with no guidance on sustainable choices, could dramatically reduce the availability of seafood and threaten food security in the future.
Seafood production statistics and ecological impacts are compared to the consumption recommendations in the DGA.
Wild caught seafood harvests peaked in the 1980s, and currently 85% of the world’s fisheries are fully exploited, overexploited, depleted, or recovering. Aquaculture, or farmed seafood, now supplies about half of the seafood we eat. Aquaculture includes a vast array of production methods and species ranging from shellfish, which filter surrounding water and require no feed, to carnivorous finfish, which rely on formulated feed made with wild fish. Some production methods have significant impacts on marine ecology and public health.
Future recommendations regarding seafood consumption should take into account declining fisheries and the myriad externalities of certain types of aquaculture to ensure that seafood stocks remain viable to enable long-term compliance with dietary recommendations. Recommendations such as eating lower on the aquatic food chain, choosing sustainably fished or farmed seafood, and eating regionally sourced aquatic food could make a significant impact on future availability of seafood and the ecological footprint of production.
Learning Areas:Environmental health sciences
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health
Discuss why the current seafood consumption recommendations in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans are not realistic or sustainable. List three key changes that could be made to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans to address seafood sustainability issues.
Keyword(s): Nutrition, Sustainability
Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I conduct research at the nexus between public health, food production, and sustainability with a focus on aquaculture.
Any relevant financial relationships? No
I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.