The World Food Prize Foundation

The Borlaug Blog

Accelerating Aquatic Food Systems Transformation From Inside The Kitchen

By Paul Newnham, Chef Sammy Monsour, Chef Megha Kohli

Paul Newnham

Currently, we are sadly off track to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), an ambitious set of targets to tackle 17 of the world’s greatest issues. The health of both people and planet is of major concern and intersects with all 17 UN SDGs. Actors and advocates around the world must stand up to accelerate action.

The Chefs’ Manifesto was born out of a desire to see chefs’ voices amplified in food systems. Sitting between farm and fork, they have a powerful platform to advocate and connect big issues like the SDGs to everyday people. This chef-led network of 1000+ chefs from over 90 countries equips chefs across the world with advocacy, education and support to enact change in their kitchens, restaurants and communities. The eight thematic areas of the Chefs' Manifesto framework were translated directly from the SDGs into areas chefs feel most passionate about:

  1. Ingredients grown with respect for the earth & its oceans

  2. Protection of biodiversity & improved animal welfare

  3. Investment in livelihoods

  4. Valuing natural resources & reducing waste

  5. Celebration of local & seasonal food

  6. A focus on plant-based ingredients

  7. Education on food safety, healthy diets & nutritious cooking

  8. Nutritious food that is accessible & affordable for all

All eight Thematic Areas above link to the importance of diverse aquatic foods and aquatic food systems from all water sources, including lakes, rivers, oceans and streams. An often overlooked ecosystem, small fish and seaweeds particularly can play a crucial role in increasing micronutrient intakes in many countries. Two chefs from the Chefs’ Manifesto network share their opinions on the importance of sustainable aquaculture and sustainable fishing. The takeaway? Consumers have a powerful part to play in driving sustainability by making informed choices and chefs can play a critical role in making these foods accessible and desirable.

Sammy Monsour - Chef / Author / Food Activist

It’s imperative to the overall health of our planet that we clean up and improve our global food systems. To complicate an already great challenge, we also need to produce more food than ever, and in a timely manner. The target year of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is right around the corner, and soon enough—by the year 2050—there will be roughly 10 billion people on planet Earth, all in need of nutrient-rich proteins. With approximately 70% of the Earth’s surface covered in water, sustainable aquaculture presents a multitude of solutions toward achieving a healthier, more bountiful food system.

It’s no secret that the health of our water sources is diminishing, but most consumers aren’t well versed on the contributing threats. Unfortunately, we’ve been misled to fear a not-too-distant future where our oceans have become even unhealthier due to the toxic factory farming of fish. Although that is a possibility, that is not the proposition.

Aquaculture is the fastest-growing food system on the planet, and with the implementation of strong science-based practices, it is quickly becoming our most sustainable food system.

As a chef, I urge you to peel back the layers of the onion and reevaluate what you think you know about farm-raised seafood. Ask yourself why you celebrate terrestrial sustainable farmers but not those of the marine environment? It is imperative that we shift our paradigm on aquaculture. We’ve already determined that sustainable aquaculture is scalable, so now, what we need to do is increase the global market demand for the adoption of sustainable aquaculture practices. This will require buy-in from all stakeholders—but it starts with an increased demand from the consumer. Simply put, when you buy sustainably farm-raised fish, you’re voting with your dollar for healthier oceans.

Megha Kohli - Chef

Healthy oceans and fisheries are essential for life and the provision of food, livelihoods and a strong marine economy. To me, sustainable fishing means leaving enough fish in the ocean, respecting habitats and ensuring people who depend on fishing can maintain their livelihoods. Millions depend on fisheries as a source of food and income.

There is evidence that a diet of aquatic foods, specifically small fish, is healthy and sustainable for the planet, and should be promoted, especially for the poorer parts of the world. Small size fish are more nutrient dense and an important source of several essential nutrients in the human diet. As consumers, we can choose seafood from well-managed, sustainable fisheries. To do so, we should educate ourselves about where our fish come from and how they are caught. Consumers create the demand: the seafood production that happens today caters to the needs and the choices that we make. These choices and actions hold unimaginable power to drive sustainability.

06/29/2021 8:00 AM |Add a comment
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