Want to feed the world? Save oceans first

Studies show that with better management measures we can potentially increase the global fish catch by up to 40% from current levels. If we can halt the decline and rebuild ocean abundance we will be able to feed nearly a billion people a healthy seafood meal each day.

And it's not just about food security. Seafood requires no land, little to no fresh water, and is much healthier for us than red meat. Studies show that switching to seafood from beef reduces the prevalence of cancer, heart disease and obesity. It’s also healthier for the planet, too, because seafood generates little to no toxic emissions, unlike the vast amounts of methane created by cows and other livestock.

But for seafood to be a viable food source for the future, we need to fix how we fish and reverse decades of decline and poor fisheries management. Rebuilding fish populations will also restore biodiversity to our seas.

We don’t just need more fish — we need more sharks and other top predators to help restore balance to marine ecosystems. How often do we have a chance to protect the environment and help people?

Not only is this a rare opportunity, but it’s something that we can accomplish without sweeping international agreements. The European Union and 25 countries control more than 90% of all the fish caught in the world. If they implement better management, the oceans will rebound.

Funded by a grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies, Oceana will work with governments in the Philippines, Chile, and Brazil to strengthen the 3 pillars of good fisheries management: setting sensible catch levels, reducing waste and protecting the natural habitat. We also hope to protect juvenile fish, deter illegal fishing, and ensure access to fishing grounds for traditional fishermen and their communities.

We want to see our oceans restored to their past abundance, able to provide food and livelihoods for the millions of people who rely on them. And we can’t wait to get started. – Rappler.com

Andrew Sharpless is the Chief Executive Officer of Oceana, an international conservation organization dedicated to protecting the world's oceans. Oceana, the largest organization in the world dedicated solely to marine conservation, is soon opening its first office in Asia in the Philippines, supported by a grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies. This piece was republished with permission from Devex.