Research Topic

Understanding and Optimizing Seafood Production in relation to Freshwater Resources

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About this Research Topic

Agriculture production is the world's single largest water-consuming sector, drawing upon water resources from lakes, rivers and aquifers. Alternative diets that include more fish and less meat have been suggested to reduce the environmental and water footprint of food production; seafood may therefore play a more important role in our future food portfolio. Seafood, including both wild-caught fisheries and aquaculture, provides roughly one-fifth of global animal proteins and is particularly important for the world’s poor. Seafood demand is projected to increase with growing population and demographic shifts; with 90% of global wild fish stocks already overfished or at capacity, the anticipated future seafood expansion will have to come from aquaculture. Today aquaculture already supplies half of all seafood consumed, including a diversity of farmed aquatic species and aquaculture operations on sea and land that vary in environmental performance and nutritional qualities. Intensive aquaculture methods consume freshwater not only directly but through irrigated crop and livestock-based feed ingredients. Intensification may, however, also result in reduced freshwater use through recirculation and filtering of waste water. The net effect on global freshwater resources from a “blue food transition”, i.e. where seafood increases in importance, is difficult to predict without good knowledge about the water dependency of seafood systems.

Aim of Research Topic
Despite its potential importance, freshwater use in aquaculture and fisheries has received little attention in the scientific literature, with most global water-use analyses focusing on agriculture, industry, and domestic water use. With the anticipated growth and change in the seafood sector, it is important to understand its future effects on freshwater resources. Studies should include both impacts on freshwater resources from seafood expansion, and also how freshwater dynamics (i.e. how changes in availability in time and space might impact users and ecosystems) at multiple scales will constrain expansion of the seafood sector.

Suggested Topics:
• Aquaculture's relationship to environmental flows, i.e. the quantity and timing of water flows required to maintain aquatic ecosystems and services
• Environmental implications from aquaculture’s consumptive and non-consumptive water use
• Regionalizing aquaculture’s global water footprint
• “Water-smart” aquaculture production
• Globalized trade of seafood - implication for freshwater resources
• Freshwater dependency of aquafeed development
• Climate change and freshwater resources - implications for seafood production
• Freshwater conflicts and aquaculture
• Capture fisheries and freshwater dependency
• Methodological considerations for estimation of freshwater use in aquaculture
• Water from aquaculture — Waste or value-added?
• Freshwater use in seafood processing
• Blue, green, or grey — which water is relevant for aquaculture?
• Considering salinity in seafood water footprint


Keywords: Aquaculture, Seafood Production, Freshwater resources, Environment, Diet, Seafood, Fish, Future food, Wild-caught fisheries, Overfishing, Intensive farming, Intensive aquaculture, Dependency on seafood systems, Environmental flows, Water-smart aquaculture, Aquafeed, Seafood water footprint


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Agriculture production is the world's single largest water-consuming sector, drawing upon water resources from lakes, rivers and aquifers. Alternative diets that include more fish and less meat have been suggested to reduce the environmental and water footprint of food production; seafood may therefore play a more important role in our future food portfolio. Seafood, including both wild-caught fisheries and aquaculture, provides roughly one-fifth of global animal proteins and is particularly important for the world’s poor. Seafood demand is projected to increase with growing population and demographic shifts; with 90% of global wild fish stocks already overfished or at capacity, the anticipated future seafood expansion will have to come from aquaculture. Today aquaculture already supplies half of all seafood consumed, including a diversity of farmed aquatic species and aquaculture operations on sea and land that vary in environmental performance and nutritional qualities. Intensive aquaculture methods consume freshwater not only directly but through irrigated crop and livestock-based feed ingredients. Intensification may, however, also result in reduced freshwater use through recirculation and filtering of waste water. The net effect on global freshwater resources from a “blue food transition”, i.e. where seafood increases in importance, is difficult to predict without good knowledge about the water dependency of seafood systems.

Aim of Research Topic
Despite its potential importance, freshwater use in aquaculture and fisheries has received little attention in the scientific literature, with most global water-use analyses focusing on agriculture, industry, and domestic water use. With the anticipated growth and change in the seafood sector, it is important to understand its future effects on freshwater resources. Studies should include both impacts on freshwater resources from seafood expansion, and also how freshwater dynamics (i.e. how changes in availability in time and space might impact users and ecosystems) at multiple scales will constrain expansion of the seafood sector.

Suggested Topics:
• Aquaculture's relationship to environmental flows, i.e. the quantity and timing of water flows required to maintain aquatic ecosystems and services
• Environmental implications from aquaculture’s consumptive and non-consumptive water use
• Regionalizing aquaculture’s global water footprint
• “Water-smart” aquaculture production
• Globalized trade of seafood - implication for freshwater resources
• Freshwater dependency of aquafeed development
• Climate change and freshwater resources - implications for seafood production
• Freshwater conflicts and aquaculture
• Capture fisheries and freshwater dependency
• Methodological considerations for estimation of freshwater use in aquaculture
• Water from aquaculture — Waste or value-added?
• Freshwater use in seafood processing
• Blue, green, or grey — which water is relevant for aquaculture?
• Considering salinity in seafood water footprint


Keywords: Aquaculture, Seafood Production, Freshwater resources, Environment, Diet, Seafood, Fish, Future food, Wild-caught fisheries, Overfishing, Intensive farming, Intensive aquaculture, Dependency on seafood systems, Environmental flows, Water-smart aquaculture, Aquafeed, Seafood water footprint


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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