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Why eat more fish and seafood?

Why eat more fish

Seafood is any form of sea life regarded as food by humans. Seafood prominently includes fish (finfish) and shellfish. Shellfish include various species of molluscs, crustaceans, and echinoderms. Edible sea plants, such as some seaweed and microalgae, are widely eaten as seafood around the world, especially in Asia. Most of the seafood harvest today is consumed by humans, but a significant proportion is used as fish food to farm other fish or to rear farm animals. Some seafood’s like kelp are used as food for other plants (fertilizers).

Seafood is consumed all over the world; it provides the world’s prime source of high-quality protein: 14-16% of the animal protein consumed world-wide; over one billion people rely on seafood as their primary source of animal protein. Fish is among the most common food allergens.

In Africa, fish already makes a vital contribution to food and nutritional security for 200 million Africans and provides income for over 10 million people – mostly small-scale fisheries, farmers, and entrepreneurs engaged in fish production, processing and trade. Fish has become a leading export commodity for Africa. However, many African countries are heavily reliant on unsustainable capture fisheries; accounting for 90% of the fish the continent produces. Already the per capita fish supply in Africa has dropped from 8.8kg/capita in 1990 to 6.7kg/capita in 2005 and for a continent where food security is so precarious, the trend is worrying.

South Africa’s population is not very large by world standards, and its people eat relatively little fish. A per capita consumption figure of 3.5 kg per person per year was published first in 1951. It has doubled by 2007 to 7.6 kg per person per year but still falls well below published figures for Spain (43.9 kg), Norway (50 kg), Seychelles (57.6 kg), Japan (66.1 kg), and Iceland 91.5 kg per person per year as was recorded in 2001. The Global average fish per capita figure from 2009 was 17 kg per person per year. The highest average fish consumption was recorded on the islands with Maldives (187.3 kg) and Tokelau (200 kg) per person per year leading.

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  • Manager, Aquaculture, Department of Animal Sciences, Stellenbosch University

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