Fishermen in India.
In many coastal areas, the nutritious fish doesn’t reach people most in need.
Photo: @Shutterstock/Haireena

04.10.2019

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A recent study by an international research team and WorldFish reveals the potential of marine fisheries to help tackle nutrient deficiencies suffered by millions in coastal areas. The study also shows that children in these areas are particularly vulnerable.

Millions of people are suffering from malnutrition despite some of the most nutritious fish species in the world being caught near their homes, according to new research published in the scientific journal Nature. Children in many tropical coastal areas are particularly vulnerable and could see significant health improvements if just a fraction of the fish caught nearby was diverted into their diets.

As well as omega-3 fatty acids, fish are also a source of important micronutrients, for example iron, zinc and calcium. Yet, more than two billion people world-wide suffer from micronutrient deficiencies, which are linked to maternal mortality, stunted growth and pre-eclampsia, the researchers say. For some nations in Africa, such deficiencies are estimated to reduce Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by up to eleven per cent.

Just fishing more is not the answer

This new research suggests that enough nutrients are already being fished out of the oceans to substantially reduce malnutrition and, at a time when the world is being asked to think more carefully about where and how we produce our food, fishing more may not be the answer.

Lead author Professor Christina Hicks of Lancaster University’s Environment Centre in Lancaster, UK, said:  “Nearly half the global population lives within 100 kilometres of the coast.

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