The New Today

Commentary

Global demand for fish and fishery products

Benefits of Consuming Fish and Fishery Products
Fish and fishery products play an important role in food and nutritional security around the world. Consumption of fish offers unique nutritional and health benefits and is considered a key element in a healthy diet.

Increased attention is given to fish as a source of essential nutrients in our diets, not only high value proteins, but more importantly also as a unique source of micronutrients and long chain omega-3 fatty acids. It also has an environmental advantage in terms of resource use in relation to other animal protein production systems.

With an efficient feed conversion rate (FCR), estimated as the proportion of feed intake by the weight gained by the animal, fish production has a lower environmental impact as less feed is required to produce a ton of fish. Seafood falls between 1.0 and 2.4, compared to 6.0–10.0 in beef, 2.7–5.0 in pigs and 1.7–2.0 in chicken.

This efficient FCR, along with high fertility rates, also contributes to a significantly lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emission intensity than ruminants.

Fish consumption is also known to have health benefits among the adult population. Strong evidence underlines how consumption of fish, and in particular oily fish, lowers the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) mortality; it is estimated that fish consumption reduces the risk of dying of coronary heart diseases by up to 36 percent due to the long chain omega3 fatty acids found in fish and fishery products.

Consumption of Fish and Fishery Products Worldwide:
China is by far the world’s largest consumer of fish, with 57,474 tons annually. That’s more than four times greater than the next biggest, Indonesia, at 12,154 tons, with India close behind at 11,016 tons.

The United States takes fourth place with 7,544 tons, and Japan rounds out the top five with 5,842 tons. Afghanistan sits at the bottom of the list, with barely a third of a pound per capita per year. Ethiopia and Mongolia aren’t much better at just over half a pound per person.

The central Asian nations of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are the fourth and fifth lowest, at two-thirds of a pound and just over a pound per capita, respectively.

Other than Pakistan, Guinea-Bissau, and Sudan, the bottom ten fish-consuming nations per capita are landlocked or otherwise cut off from the world’s oceans. Iceland’s seafood consumption makes the seafood consumption in Norway, Portugal and Spain look not that high.

However, these 3 countries consume a very large amount of seafood and are still one of the world’s biggest consumers of seafood worldwide.

In the Caribbean, fish supplies (from all sources) amount to some 400,000 tonnes per annum. The average annual fish consumption is about 14.1 kg per capita, but there is a large difference between the Greater Antilles (with an average annual consumption of 12.7 kg/y/capita) and the Lesser Antilles (with 23.9 kg/y/capita).

Fish is preferred in a fresh whole form, although salted dried fish is well accepted in some islands. Processed forms are bought in larger quantities due to greater availability and sometimes cheaper prices. Fish imports into the region comprise a wide range of species and product forms, mostly dried, smoked, salt-dried, gutted, iced, and canned.

In the Lesser Antilles the demersal fishes (snappers and groupers) are the most appreciated variety but imported salted cod (from Canada, France, and Norway) is also important as it is used in the preparation of many traditional dishes.

In Martinique about one-quarter of the total fish consumption is salted cod. In most country islands fish is regularly a part of the daily diet served with rice and local vegetables, and it is usually boiled and heavily spiced. In the Greater Antilles most fish are acceptable without preference for those of demersal or pelagic origin.

Some freshwater fishes, namely the tilapias, carps, and colossomids have recently become popular. In fact, in countries like Cuba, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago, the growth and transformation of the productive structure of fish farming have had a strong impact on the marketing and consumption of fish.

The use of salted cod throughout the English-speaking Caribbean countries as an economical source of protein during colonial times has established it firmly in the local diets of the region.

Complex economic factors combined with traditional eating habits continue to affect the pattern of fish consumption. Thus, although markets for processed fish products exist, the potential for penetrating them through aquaculture remains a challenging enterprise.

In Cuba, despite the extensive nature of its predominant production through culture-based fisheries, aquaculture is not an artisanal practice but rather a complex industrial activity carried out by the National Aquaculture Enterprise.

Enterprise, created in 1980, is self-financing. Aquaculture fish workers are reported to have higher incomes than agriculture workers and the overall mean monthly wage is 25% above the national average.

The Fishing Industry in Grenada:
Over the past decades the fishing industry in Grenada has evolved from one that was essentially artisanal to a more commercialised fishery, harvesting a tropical multispecies stock.

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Today, the fisheries sector has become a major source of employment and income, a significant contributor to food supply and food security, and a foreign exchange earner.

Blue marlin, white marlin, sailfish and yellowfin tuna are the main species captured. There’s also wahoo, mahi mahi (dolphin/dorado), king fish, mackerel and barracuda to be found. For the beach seining small pelagic fisheries, the production has been reliable and robust over the years.

Fishing in Grenada varies slightly throughout the year. High season is from January to March and November to December. The low season is from April to October. There is no closed season. Tuna and tuna-like fishes, most notably the yellowfin and Atlantic sailfish make up about 70 percent of the reported catches in Grenada.

With an estimated 2,550 tonnes of fish caught annually, fisheries play an important role in the Grenadian economy, providing employment and income, food and food security, while also being a major source of foreign exchange.

The fish catch in Grenada is mainly marketed fresh, fresh on ice and, to a lesser extent, frozen. There are six main market centers on the island of Grenada and one on Carriacou. Seasonal supply, species preference and the limited buying power of the consumers affect fish marketing. Import levels reflect certain traditional preferences for processed fish.

A part of the production is exported intra-regionally to islands such as Martinique and Guadeloupe, especially from the Island of Carriacou.

Grenada is certified to export their fish to the EU and have therefore not lost this significant market for regional and international trade. In 2017, exports of fish and fish products were estimated at USD 5.2 million and imports at USD 2.7 million.

Landings in Grenada are dominated by pelagic fish species (80 percent), followed by reef fish (18 percent). Shellfish make up 2 percent. The fisheries sector is Grenada’s largest exporter, with tuna, lobster, and conch as the key species sent abroad.

There has been no reported commercial aquaculture production in Grenada for the last decade.

Aquaculture Production:
With a growing population worldwide, the demand for fisheries products will increase even if the per capita consumption remains at the present world average level of 19 kg/year (FAO, 2012).

It is believed that this increased demand will mainly be met from the increased output of aquaculture products, and not from wild sources. At present close to 50% of all fish for human consumption is farmed, a proportion which is set to rise making aquaculture the main source of essential nutrients provided by the fisheries sector.

Freshwater ecosystems are important sources of food fish and have accounted for about 40 percent of all fish destined for human consumption in recent years.

In at least 11 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, 20 percent or more of the people working in capture fisheries work in inland fisheries, although inland fisheries constitute only three percent of catches in the region.

Even though the nutritional composition of farmed and wild fish in most cases is comparable, there might be some differences. From a nutritional point of view, the main difference between farmed fish and their wild counterparts is related to the quality and quantity of fat. The nutrient composition of farmed fish is frequently compared to that of wild fish, or to that of other farmed fish.

However, farmed fish should rather be compared to other farmed meats to show how aquaculture products have a marked nutritional advantage by providing high levels of essential nutrients, some of which are hardly found in non-aquatic foods.

The main farmed fish species, carps and tilapia, have much lower levels of the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids compared, for example, to salmon, but can still be considered good sources of these fatty acids.

Compared to levels in beef or chicken, the levels in carp and tilapia are much higher. A single meal of carp can cover up to several days’ requirement of this essential nutrient.

The role consumption of farmed carp plays for food and nutrition security is particularly   evident in many Asian countries where the major part of this fish is consumed.

An agreement has been signed between Grenada and Cuba in which Cuba will provide technical assistance and support aimed at boosting, developing, and enhancing the agriculture sector in Grenada including aquaculture.

Grenada’s Agriculture Minister, Lennox Andrews, said that in fisheries they would focus on technical exchange specifically for deep sea marine fishing. Regarding aquaculture, their cooperation will involve a number of different areas, so there will be technical exchange on tilapia and farming in the freshwater environment including shrimp farming.

Simeon Collins is a former Director of the Grenada Bureau of Standards and first Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Caribbean Agricultural Health and Food Safety Agency (CAHFSA), a CARICOM Institution. He is also a certified OSHA Auditor