Many of the world's fisheries are depleted and continue to decline. At the same time, global demand for seafood is growing rapidly. Fish and shellfish farms, or "aquaculture," provide an increasing share of the world's seafood - in 2006, aquaculture operations produced nearly half of the global seafood supply - but there are potentially adverse effects of large-scale aquaculture production. Both fisheries and aquaculture can have harmful impacts on marine ecosystems, and these impacts have been widely studied. However, few studies have focused on the ways in which the global trade in seafood drives declines in marine ecosystems and how this trade might be altered to support their restoration. Also, scientists from different disciplines generally study the constituent parts of seafood production in isolation without an overarching vision of what an ecologically and economically sustainable global seafood system would look like. This is the void in scholarship we seek to fill with a team of marine ecologists, conservation practitioners, natural resource economists, and an anthropologist. This study is timely and of vital importance, and we believe we have assembled an ideal team to carry it out. By linking knowledge about how the global seafood trade works with knowledge about the ecological impacts of fisheries and aquaculture operations, we will identify trade and policy avenues for shifting the global seafood trade away from degrading marine ecosystems towards supporting their restoration and a sustainable global seafood system.
Photo Credit: William B. Folsom/NOAA
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