Nearly half of all seafood consumed globally comes from aquaculture

Nearly half of all seafood consumed globally comes from aquaculture, a method of food production that has expanded rapidly in recent years. Increasing seafood consumption has been proposed as part of a strategy to combat the current non-communicable disease (NCD) pandemic, but public health, environmental, social, and production challenges related to certain types of aquaculture production must be addressed. Resolving these complicated human health and ecologic trade-offs requires systems thinking and collaboration across many fields; the One Health concept is an integrative approach that brings veterinary and human health experts together to combat zoonotic disease. We propose applying and expanding the One Health approach to facilitate collaboration among stakeholders focused on increasing consumption of seafood and expanding aquaculture production, using methods that minimize risks to public health, animal health, and ecology. This expanded application of One Health may also have relevance to other complex systems with similar trade-offs.

Access to nutritious foods of animal origin, including aquatic animals, was crucial in the evolution of hominids and early human brain development [1•]. Aquatic animals contain essential nutrients, such as iodine and omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs), that are generally limited in other animal foods. While, historically, consumption of seafood has been important for humans, overfishing and other factors (e.g., population growth, pollution, ocean acidification) have greatly decreased wild fish stocks and damaged marine resources [2•]. In response to declining marine resources and an increasing demand for seafood, aquaculture has grown dramatically in the past four decades. In 2011, aquaculture accounted for nearly half of all seafood consumed by humans [3], and global aquaculture production continues to increase at a rate of 6 % per year [4].