Strategies to balance enhanced fish consumption with sustainable fish production

Lead Research Organisation: University of Aberdeen
Department Name: Inst of Biological and Environmental Sci


Fish and shellfish are an important and healthy component of our diet, but it is debated whether dietary recommendations help to enhance consumption, and whether recommendations can be justified based on a sustainable supply1. This project aims to exploit the natural synergy between research capabilities and national databases and the University of Aberdeen to better understand how we can streamline strategies to enhance human fish and shellfish consumption towards international recommendations with sustainable production of aquaculture and wild caught fish in the UK, now and in the future.

The project would start with an investigation into the potential aquaculture carrying capacity of the UK (both fish and shellfish) and the volume of wild caught fish available when stocks are fished at Maximum Sustainable Yield. This will build on work undertaken by the lead supervisor to simulate populations based on knowledge of fish biology, fishing patterns and variability in fish populations, linking their management to potential yield. In this respect it goes beyond studies of the status quo fish landings to provide data of the potential yield of key UK fish stocks after the ongoing recovery from an overfished state. Data would be compared with current consumer purchasing (applying the Kantar Worldpanel database) and consumption patterns (applying the National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) database), to establish the additional amount of fish required to meet demand when adhering to dietary recommendations. In the second phase, alternative scenarios of climate and concomitant changes in fish stock distributions will enable us to predict the introduction of new fish species that may replace others in terms of production and consumption. For both objectives, we aim to assess if available fish would provide the required protein, n-3 fatty acids and micronutrients to deliver expected societal health improvements. An overarching consumer-based study will investigate whether and to what extent new species have a potential consumer market in the UK.

Key Research Questions:

- If everyone in the UK would eat the national recommended two portions of, primarily pelagic, fish a week, would there be enough fish to go around, considering we are part of a global market?

- What other fish may be more viable for aquaculture in the future given the current trends in climate change and what wild fish might be anticipated as becoming resident in our waters?

- What would be the likely nutritional composition of alternative fish/shellfish species and how would these compare with current species in terms of their potential to impact on the health of the population?

- Will consumers buy and eat any new species of fish and shellfish from UK waters or not and would they eat such species now if an appropriate import stream could be realised?

This innovative and interdisciplinary approach by natural and socio-economic scientists will provide the required scientific basis for a vision to alter the UK diet to incorporate more marine-based products which will result in clear societal impact in terms of public health, and economic impact in terms of income generation for aquaculture and fisheries, as well as the UK Food Industry.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
BB/M010996/1 01/10/2015 30/09/2023
1942829 Studentship BB/M010996/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2021 Anneli Lofstedt