Department of
Biological Sciences

How can fisheries contribute more to a sustainable future?

The ocean contributes with only 2% of human food and 6% of dietary protein, despite harbouring half the global primary production. The relatively low contribution has been used to justify that food should mainly be produced on land, while sea food production should be reduced and the ocean protected. This project takes a step back and considers seafood as part of the global food system. Together with key stakeholders, the aim is to reimagine the role of fisheries based on the principles of sustainability rather than on current practices and beliefs. How would fisheries look like if the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and the Convention on Biological Diversity were to define the objective of fisheries as maximizing global food production while minimizing ecological and climate footprint?

About this project

This project in funded by the Research Council of Norway, as a Collaborative Project to Meet Societal and Industry-related Challenges within the thematic area Sustainable Food Systems. The project is interdisciplinary across biological oceanography, marine ecology, and psychology, with strong involvement of the seafood industry (Fiskebåt), a conservationist NGO (Nature and Youth), and Norway’s government agency advising and implementing seafood policy (Directorate of Fisheries). The project duration is four years starting from November 2021.

Aims and objectives

In this project we have the following aims:

1: Use food systems analysis of fisheries as embedded within marine ecology to find ways fisheries can produce more food at reduced climate impact.

2: Compare fisheries with other food systems to identify where seafood may alleviate global trade-offs between planetary boundaries.

3: Measure and analyse how values, psychological mechanisms, and ethics may foster action and a bottom-up and fact-based transition towards sustainability.

More specifically, the project will model and analyse increased harvesting of small pelagics and critically assess impacts on biodiversity, revisit total ocean productivity by modelling primary production with inclusion of the microbial loop, improve trophic level theory, measure values and beliefs of citizens regarding nature and food production, analyse the psychological mechanisms of revising one’s values, and integrate everything in a food systems comparison across land and sea to identify how fisheries realistically can contribute more to global sustainability.


Three new members working with sustainable fisheries
We are excited to welcome three new members to the Theoretical Ecology Group to work on the project How can fisheries contribute to a more sustainable future? [4 March 2022]

Project team

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