Addressing the Global Food Crisis: A Focus on Blue Foods

by Ella

The escalating global food crisis, exacerbated by climate change and geopolitical tensions, has thrust the importance of food security into the international spotlight. Against the backdrop of record-breaking heatwaves, droughts, and floods, countries such as Ethiopia, Afghanistan, and Haiti grapple with deepening famine. Adding to these concerns, Russia’s recent withdrawal from a vital Black Sea grain agreement with Ukraine has raised alarms about the vulnerability of global food supplies. As the specter of El Niño looms through 2024, the world faces an era of unprecedented instability.

To tackle this mounting global food crisis, world leaders must broaden their gaze beyond the terrestrial realm to the often-overlooked source of sustenance: blue foods.


The term “blue foods” encompasses marine and freshwater ecosystems, encompassing species like tunas, pollock, cod, shrimp, and seaweeds. Remarkably, these resources remain underrepresented in global food discussions, despite their significant contributions to both human well-being and economic prosperity worldwide.


Blue foods sustain the livelihoods of over 800 million individuals and rank among the most traded commodities globally. Approximately half of the world’s population relies on blue foods for animal protein, essential micronutrients, and cultural identity.


While some blue foods offer a more environmentally sustainable option compared to land-based livestock, their supply is finite. In our oceans, nearly 92 percent of wild-caught fish originate from stocks already overfished or incapable of withstanding additional fishing pressure. Freshwater migratory fish have seen a devastating decline of 76 percent since 1970. With the demand for blue foods expected to nearly double by 2050, it is clear that current trends are unsustainable. Aquaculture, while important, cannot fully compensate for the collapse of ocean fish populations or shield the global economy from the repercussions.


The scarcity of blue food resources has not only strained ecosystems but also fueled international conflicts. Research shows that conflicts related to fisheries have been steadily increasing, with more than 150 international fishery conflicts involving militaries since the 1990s. Notably, China and Russia have been prominent actors in 40 percent of these conflicts. China, as the world’s leading fishing power, has strategically pursued seafood resources through legislative, economic, and military means, given its enormous consumption of seafood per capita. This pursuit has, in turn, sparked numerous conflicts, particularly in regions like the Horn of Africa.

Climate change amplifies these challenges. Warming waters disrupt fish reproduction and compel species to migrate unprecedentedly, creating new zones of abundance and scarcity. Over the next seven years, 23 percent of fish stocks associated with territorial waters will shift, intensifying competition and conflicts between communities and nations.

The repercussions extend beyond resource disputes; small-scale fishery conflicts destabilize coastal communities, contributing to crime, food insecurity, and poverty. Internationally, the risk of escalation in maritime conflicts looms, especially in regions grappling with disputes over maritime borders and resources. Labor and human rights abuses pervade blue food value chains, with many blue foods originating from countries flagged for high human trafficking risks by the U.S. government.

Mitigating conflict and protecting human rights can still be achieved through conservation and natural resource management. Data-driven approaches can identify future conflict hotspots, enabling governments to establish early warning systems and conservation plans. An inclusive approach that incorporates the needs and perspectives of coastal Indigenous communities, who are often on the front lines of climate change, can also drive success, as seen in Indonesia.

Moreover, science-based fishery management practices must be implemented to address climate change impacts and ensure sustainable fisheries, including small-scale ones. Scaling up aquaculture for non-carnivorous species can help meet rising demand, but effective zoning and permitting are essential to prevent overexploitation of natural habitats.

Seafood businesses worldwide hold a critical role in promoting sustainable and ethical sourcing of blue foods, given their significant market influence. By supporting better management of fisheries and aquaculture, these companies can drive positive change, particularly in smaller island nations vulnerable to climate-induced fish stock losses.

Additionally, international agreements, such as the U.N.’s Agreement on Port State Measures, should be strengthened to address evolving environmental realities in blue food production. Major fishing powers, including the United States and China, must eliminate harmful subsidies and support sustainable fisheries, as demonstrated by the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies.

Collaboration and support for area-based management initiatives, like the Eastern Tropical Pacific Marine Corridor, offer pathways to solutions that protect and restore ecosystems.

In conclusion, addressing the global food crisis necessitates a multifaceted approach that recognizes blue foods as a strategic commodity. The actions taken in the coming months and years will determine whether blue foods sustain millions of livelihoods or become a source of conflict and instability on a global scale.



Wellfoodrecipes is a professional gourmet portal, the main columns include gourmet recipes, healthy diet, desserts, festival recipes, meat and seafood recipes, etc.

【Contact us: [email protected]

Copyright © 2023