Will the Oceans Help Feed Humanity?
Constraints on the availability of freshwater and land plants and animals to feed the 9.2 billion humans projected to inhabit Earth by 2050 can be overcome by enhancing the contribution the ocean makes to food production. Catches from ocean fisheries are unlikely to recover without adequate conservation measures, so the greater contribution of the oceans to feeding humanity must be derived largely from mariculture. For the effort to be successful, mariculture must close the production cycle to abandon its current dependence on fisheries catches; enhance the production of edible macroalgae and filter-feeder organisms; minimize environmental impacts; and increase integration with food production on land, transferring water-intensive components of the human diet (i.e., production of animal protein) to the ocean. Accommodating these changes will enable the oceans to become a major source of food, which we believe will constitute the next food revolution in human history.