Analysis from Planet Tracker finds diversifying farmed seafood production can close supply gap while tackling biodiversity risks
- Latest research finds farmed seafood industry will miss consumer demands by around a fifth by 2050 and drive further biodiversity loss – unless it changes.
- High concentration leaves the industry vulnerable to biodiversity risks, leading to higher costs, more regulation and capped production, below future demand.
- Diversification towards regenerative aquaculture is crucial to avoid this 50 million tonnes shortfall, and will benefit ecosystems.
- At least USD 55 billion is needed to help transition companies, but most aquaculture companies cannot afford this on their own: investors and lenders need to consider the material risks of the status quo and provide finance.
London, 11 May 2023: New research finds the aquaculture industry will fail to satisfy growing seafood demand on its current trajectory, leaving a supply gap as large as 50 million tonnes by 2050.
According to Planet Tracker’s new report Avoiding Aquafailure, even in the most optimistic scenario of improving current aquaculture practices, a supply gap would still exist, meaning change is critical.
While technological solutions such as farming seafood offshore or in land or growing fish in labs could contribute up to 5 million additional tonnes of seafood by 2050, embracing regenerative aquaculture could produce an additional 45 million tonnes of seafood and meet growing demand, Planet Tracker finds. Regenerative aquaculture refers to the production of food from the sea such as many bivalves (e.g. oysters, mussels and clams) and seaweed species that provide benefits to the ecosystem – for instance water filtering or carbon sequestration.
A business-as-usual approach with concentrated fish monocultures leads to a variety of biodiversity risks, with impacts from nutrients pollution to native species displacement, resulting in financial losses to the industry.
Latest research finds an increasingly concentrated industry with the top ten seafood—producing counties accounting for 89% of the total – and over 75% of listed aquaculture companies farming salmon, shrimp or pangasius.
François Mosnier, Head of Oceans Programme, Planet Tracker, comments: “On land, the conversion of natural habitat into monoculture is widely recognised as a key driver of biodiversity loss, but less acknowledged are the similar patterns affecting marine life due to monoculture fish farming. Unsustainable seafood production will not feed the world by 2050, but the good news is that an aquaculture industry that is resilient, productive and environmentally sustainable can be built.
“Planet Tracker found it will take at least USD 55 billion in capital expenditure to finance this transition, which most aquaculture companies cannot afford. That’s why we’re calling on investors and lenders to assist with diversifying the aquaculture industry and closing the supply gap.”
The report calls on investors and lenders to finance this regenerative transition, by:
- Being aware of the increasing risks to production in a business-as-usual scenario due to concentration, coastal conflict, production at intensities above sustainable limits and upcoming regulatory pressures
- Demanding better disclosure, transparency and traceability procedures from companies to assist in better quantification and mitigation of these risks
- Supporting the mitigation of these risks through diversification of species and geographic distribution, especially if the species involved allow ecosystem restoration and provided that expansion in new areas does not increase the company’s impact on biodiversity investments
- Supporting the mitigation of these risks through technology which enables offshore, RAS and cultivated seafood, but only if it is environmentally sound to do so
- Supporting regenerative aquaculture investments, for instance by offering cheaper capital for sustainable expansion, including via sustainability-linked bonds.
Avoiding Aquafailure: Aquaculture diversification and regeneration are needed to feed the world can be downloaded in full here.
View the interactive dashboard here
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Josh Hoppen, ESG Communications | t: +34 612 28 72 64 | email@example.com