From The University of California-Santa Barbara (US) : “A Blue Food Revolution” 

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From The University of California-Santa Barbara (US)

September 15, 2021
Sonia Fernandez

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An unprecedented review of the aquatic foods sector has uncovered how fisheries and aquaculture can play a greater role in delivering healthy diets and more sustainable, equitable and resilient food systems around the world.

Five peer-reviewed papers in the journal Nature highlight the opportunities to leverage the vast diversity of aquatic, or “blue,” foods in the coming decades to address malnutrition, lower the environmental footprint of the food system, and provide livelihoods.

“People are trying to make more informed choices about the food they eat, in particular the environmental footprint of their food,” said Ben Halpern, a marine ecologist at UC Santa Barbara’s Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, who with colleagues examined the environmental sustainability of aquatic foods [Nature], the potential for the growth of small-scale producers [Nature Food] and the climate risks that face aquatic food systems [Nature Food]. “For the first time we pulled together data from hundreds of studies on a wide range of seafood species to help answer that question. Blue foods stack up really well overall and provide a great option for sustainable food.”

The research projects that global demand for blue foods will roughly double by 2050, and will be met primarily through increased aquaculture production rather than by capture fisheries.

Investing in innovation and improving fisheries management could increase consumption even more and have profound effects on malnutrition. For instance, a “high growth” modeling scenario showed that increasing supply by 15.5 million tons (8%), causing a drop in prices, would reduce cases of nutrient deficiencies by 166 million, especially among low-income populations.

“Small-scale fishers — the individuals and small boats that fish in places all around the world — are a huge part of the global seafood system and are incredibly diverse in who they are and how they fish,” said Halpern, who also directs the National Center for Ecological Analysis & Synthesis at UCSB. “That diversity creates both opportunities and challenges for sustainably managing the oceans. We unpacked this diversity to help guide better management.”

Blue foods were found to rank more highly than terrestrial animal-source foods in terms of their nutritional benefits and potential for sustainability gains.

Many blue food species are rich in important nutrients. Compared to chicken, trout has approximately 19 times more omega-3 fatty acids; oysters and mussels have 76 times more vitamin B-12 and five times more iron; and carps have nine times more calcium.

“For the first time we got to see what more aquatic food production would mean for human health globally,” said Bren School marine ecologist and assistant researcher Christopher Free, who with fellow UCSB marine scientist Jacob Eurich co-authored a study that examines the nutritional potential of blue foods [Nature]. “What we project is that by making aquatic foods cheaper to the consumer, there’s likely going to be a shift away from land-based foods like chicken, beef and dairy. I think what made us really excited is knowing that aquatic food could be a useful solution to combating malnutrition, and really showing that comprehensively for the first time.”

The nutritional benefits of blue foods are especially important for women, who were found to benefit more than men from increased consumption in nearly three times the number of countries studied.

On average, the major species produced in aquaculture, such as tilapia, salmon, catfish and carp, were found to have environmental footprints comparable to chicken, the lowest-impact terrestrial meat. Small pelagic species like sardines and anchovies, bivalves and seaweeds all already offer lower stressors than chicken.

Further investments to improve the sector’s efficiency and reduce its environmental footprint can have sector-wide benefits, including for less commonly raised species like European bass, weakfish, flatfish, sea breams and milkfish.

The research found that blue food systems facing the highest risk from climate change are also typically located in those regions where people rely on them most and where they are least equipped to respond and adapt to climate hazards.

“Climate change is creating all sorts of risks to humanity, including to our food,” Halpern said. “Blue foods are no different and in fact face some unique risks from things like acidifying and warming waters. But not all foods are equally vulnerable to these risks — in our work we show where, how and why different blue foods face different risks from climate change.”

These five papers are the first in a series produced by the Blue Food Assessment(BFA), a group of more than 100 leading researchers led by Stanford University’s Center for Ocean Solutions & Center on Food Security and the Environment, the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University [Stockholms universitet](SE) and EAT.

“Blue foods are much more diverse than typically thought, and so too are the many communities of small-scale fishers who are often overlooked despite providing the majority of blue food people eat,” said Beatrice Crona, co-chair of the BFA and deputy science director at the Stockholm Resilience Centre.

“Few, if any, countries are developing their blue food sector to provide ecological, economic, and health benefits to its full potential,” said Rosamond Naylor, BFA co-chair and founding director of the Center on Food Security and the Environment at Stanford University (US). “This assessment aims to provide the scientific foundation for decision-makers to evaluate trade-offs and implement solutions that will make blue foods an instrumental part of an improved food system from local to global scales.”

“The BFA assessment emphasizes the enormous diversity of blue foods, all of which carry important nutritional, cultural, economic and environmental value,” said Fabrice DeClerck, EAT science director. “To realize its potential, policymakers should put in place better governance, including participation of small producers, women and other marginalized groups, better stewardship of the natural resources on which blue foods rely; and investment in building resilience to climate change.”

“We are nine fishing seasons away from the deadline for achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals so the urgency is high,” said Jim Leape, co-director of the Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions. “This research can help policymakers, companies, financiers, fishers and consumers capitalize on the immense potential of blue foods to help achieve those goals.”

More than 2,500 species or species groups of fish, shellfish, aquatic plants and algae are caught or cultivated globally for food, providing livelihoods and incomes for more than 100 million and sustenance for one billion.

The full list of research papers produced as part of the Blue Food Assessment is available online.

See the full article here .


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The University of California-Santa Barbara (US) is a public land-grant research university in Santa Barbara, California, and one of the ten campuses of the University of California (US) system. Tracing its roots back to 1891 as an independent teachers’ college, The University of California-Santa Barbara joined the University of California system in 1944, and is the third-oldest undergraduate campus in the system.

The university is a comprehensive doctoral university and is organized into five colleges and schools offering 87 undergraduate degrees and 55 graduate degrees. It is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”. According to the National Science Foundation (US), The University of California-Santa Barbara spent $235 million on research and development in fiscal year 2018, ranking it 100th in the nation. In his 2001 book The Public Ivies: America’s Flagship Public Universities, author Howard Greene labeled The University of California-Santa Barbara a “Public Ivy”.

The University of California-Santa Barbara is a research university with 10 national research centers, including the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (US) and the Center for Control, Dynamical-Systems and Computation. Current University of California-Santa Barbara faculty includes six Nobel Prize laureates; one Fields Medalist; 39 members of the National Academy of Sciences (US); 27 members of the National Academy of Engineering (US); and 34 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (US). The University of California-Santa Barbara was the No. 3 host on the ARPANET and was elected to the Association of American Universities in 1995. The faculty also includes two Academy and Emmy Award winners and recipients of a Millennium Technology Prize; an IEEE Medal of Honor; a National Medal of Technology and Innovation; and a Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics.
The University of California-Santa Barbara Gauchos compete in the Big West Conference of the NCAA Division I. The Gauchos have won NCAA national championships in men’s soccer and men’s water polo.

History

The University of California-Santa Barbara traces its origins back to the Anna Blake School, which was founded in 1891, and offered training in home economics and industrial arts. The Anna Blake School was taken over by the state in 1909 and became the Santa Barbara State Normal School which then became the Santa Barbara State College in 1921.

In 1944, intense lobbying by an interest group in the City of Santa Barbara led by Thomas Storke and Pearl Chase persuaded the State Legislature, Gov. Earl Warren, and the Regents of the University of California to move the State College over to the more research-oriented University of California system. The State College system sued to stop the takeover but the governor did not support the suit. A state constitutional amendment was passed in 1946 to stop subsequent conversions of State Colleges to University of California campuses.

From 1944 to 1958, the school was known as Santa Barbara College of the University of California, before taking on its current name. When the vacated Marine Corps training station in Goleta was purchased for the rapidly growing college Santa Barbara City College moved into the vacated State College buildings.

Originally the regents envisioned a small several thousand–student liberal arts college a so-called “Williams College (US) of the West”, at Santa Barbara. Chronologically, The University of California-Santa Barbara is the third general-education campus of the University of California, after The University of California-Berkeley (US) and The University of California-Los Angeles (US) (the only other state campus to have been acquired by the UC system). The original campus the regents acquired in Santa Barbara was located on only 100 acres (40 ha) of largely unusable land on a seaside mesa. The availability of a 400-acre (160 ha) portion of the land used as Marine Corps Air Station Santa Barbara until 1946 on another seaside mesa in Goleta, which the regents could acquire for free from the federal government, led to that site becoming the Santa Barbara campus in 1949.

Originally only 3000–3500 students were anticipated but the post-WWII baby boom led to the designation of general campus in 1958 along with a name change from “Santa Barbara College” to “University of California-Santa Barbara,” and the discontinuation of the industrial arts program for which the state college was famous. A chancellor- Samuel B. Gould- was appointed in 1959.

In 1959 The University of California-Santa Barbara professor Douwe Stuurman hosted the English writer Aldous Huxley as the university’s first visiting professor. Huxley delivered a lectures series called The Human Situation.

In the late ’60s and early ’70s The University of California-Santa Barbara became nationally known as a hotbed of anti–Vietnam War activity. A bombing at the school’s faculty club in 1969 killed the caretaker Dover Sharp. In the spring of 1970 multiple occasions of arson occurred including a burning of the Bank of America branch building in the student community of Isla Vista during which time one male student Kevin Moran was shot and killed by police. The University of California-Santa Barbara ‘s anti-Vietnam activity impelled then-Gov. Ronald Reagan to impose a curfew and order the National Guard to enforce it. Armed guardsmen were a common sight on campus and in Isla Vista during this time.

In 1995 The University of California-Santa Barbara was elected to the Association of American Universities– an organization of leading research universities with a membership consisting of 59 universities in the United States (both public and private) and two universities in Canada.

On May 23, 2014 a killing spree occurred in Isla Vista, California, a community in close proximity to the campus. All six people killed during the rampage were students at The University of California-Santa Barbara. The murderer was a former Santa Barbara City College student who lived in Isla Vista.

Research activity

According to the National Science Foundation (US), The University of California-Santa Barbara spent $236.5 million on research and development in fiscal 2013, ranking it 87th in the nation.

From 2005 to 2009 UCSB was ranked fourth in terms of relative citation impact in the U.S. (behind Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US), California Institute of Technology(US), and Princeton University (US)) according to Thomson Reuters.

The University of California-Santa Barbara hosts 12 National Research Centers, including the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics, the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, the Southern California Earthquake Center, the UCSB Center for Spatial Studies, an affiliate of the National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis, and the California Nanosystems Institute. Eight of these centers are supported by The National Science Foundation (US). UCSB is also home to Microsoft Station Q, a research group working on topological quantum computing where American mathematician and Fields Medalist Michael Freedman is the director.

Research impact rankings

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings ranked The University of California-Santa Barbara 48th worldwide for 2016–17, while the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) in 2016 ranked https://www.nsf.gov/ 42nd in the world; 28th in the nation; and in 2015 tied for 17th worldwide in engineering.

In the United States National Research Council rankings of graduate programs, 10 University of California-Santa Barbara departments were ranked in the top ten in the country: Materials; Chemical Engineering; Computer Science; Electrical and Computer Engineering; Mechanical Engineering; Physics; Marine Science Institute; Geography; History; and Theater and Dance. Among U.S. university Materials Science and Engineering programs, The University of California-Santa Barbara was ranked first in each measure of a study by the National Research Council of the NAS.

The Global Research Report: United States published by Thomson Reuters in November 2010 rated The University of California-Santa Barbara ‘s research fourth nationally in citation impact.

Among U.S. university economics programs, in 2010 The University of California-Santa Barbara was ranked sixth for experimental economics; third for environmental economics; and 12th for cognitive and behavioral economics by RePEc.

Washington Monthly named The University of California-Santa Barbara as the 20th best national university in 2020 based on its contribution to the public good as measured by social mobility, research, and promoting public service.