A new literature review compiled for the High Level Panel on a Sustainable Ocean Economy finds that the ocean could provide over six times more food than it does today – enough to provide protein for two-thirds of the world’s future population, according to estimates from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The largest potential gains for food production lie in the expansion of unfed marine aquaculture, the study found. Boosting production of cultivated species like seaweed and mussels, which do not rely on supplemental feed inputs, could contribute to global food supply while also improving water quality, creating fish habitat and contributing to coastal resilience, according to the authors. Mariculture species that are fed on wild-sourced fishmeal and fish oil – like farmed salmon – can also significantly contribute to the future protein supply, but only if alternative feeds are fast-tracked and environmental effects can be minimized.

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