The “Seafood” System: Aquatic Foods, Food Security, and the Global South

Peer Reviewed
31 May 2022

Andreea L. Cojocaru, Yaqin Liu, Martin D. Smith, Wisdom Akpalu, Carlos Chávez, Madan M. Dey, Jorge Dresdner, Viktoria Kahui, Ruth B. M. Pincinato, Nhuong Tran

The global seafood system includes three interconnected sectors: commercial capture (or wild-caught) fisheries, recreational and subsistence fisheries, and aquaculture (or farmed seafood). The three sector-focused articles in this symposium review production externalities within and between sectors and between the seafood system and the broader natural environment. Building on the insights from these articles, we discuss seafood as part of an integrated food system and examine both seafood supply and demand. We assess possible tensions between environmental sustainability and food security with an emphasis on the Global South. We examine the inconsistent application of market mechanisms to allocate resources across user groups; highlight governance challenges that are especially pronounced in the Global South; discuss the role of subsistence and poverty alleviation in seafood production; identify sources of demand heterogeneity that are critical to understanding the future of seafood, including the impact of culture; and evaluate concerns about the international seafood trade through an economic lens. We discuss nutritional security in detail, focusing on how product attributes such as micro- and macronutrients that are intrinsically bundled (not purchasable separately) could exacerbate inequality and/or lead to nutritional externalities. We conclude by identifying needs for future research, technological innovation, and governance innovation.

Files and links

Sustainable Development Goals
Publication reference
Cojocaru, A. L., Liu, Y., Smith, M. D., Akpalu, W., Chávez, C., Dey, M. M., Dresdner, J., Kahui, V., Pincinato, R. B. M., & Tran, N. (2022). The “Seafood” System: Aquatic Foods, Food Security, and the Global South. Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, 16(2), 306–326.
Publication | 4 November 2022