Concern about food security and malnutrition continues to rise both globally and among communities adjacent to water bodies who must compete with industrial markets for access to locally caught fish. Competition is prevalent, not only in terms of the reliance of people upon fish as food for consumption, but also regarding food-related industries that rely on fish as raw materials. Likewise, the dependence of aquaculture on wild-caught fish, fishmeal, and fish oil add to food security concerns. A persistent question in this milieu of issues, therefore, is how vulnerable are small-scale fishers to malnutrition, and with whom do they compete in order to secure food for their families?
The issue of food security has ranked high within the political agendas of the world´s leaders. However, more often than not, the issue is addressed by the politic and administrative discourses, with an emphasis on terrestrial system (e.g., agriculture, crops, seeds, droughts). Thus, a gap exists between small-scale fisheries ‒ a sector closely linked to food sovereignty ‒ and the discourse of food security, when addressing fish just as commodities traded for economic benefits in markets. Yet, it is increasingly argued in science and policy that food sovereignty is a prerequisite to food security. As such, it is necessary to identify links between food security and food systems at historical, social, political, and economic, realms.
The “Too Big To Ignore – Fish-as-Food Research Cluster” will address these pressing issues through a global scan of small-scale fisheries in marine and inland systems. Critical aspects that we are interested to explore are: access, availability, and affordability of fish-as-food, and also the stability dimension, i.e., whether people in fishing communities have the flexibility to respond to variability and change in any specific fishery. The ultimate aim of this cluster is to provide evidence that: fish ‒ and in particular small fish ‒ are a critical source of nutrition for humans, and that when more fish are prioritized for local human consumption, both global food security and the sustainability of fisheries will be enhanced.
For more information on participation in this cluster please scroll down to “How to contribute” section.
In order to achieve the aim, we propose to:
1. Scan the existing literature about the importance of fish-as-food, fisheries, and farming, at a global scale;
2. Develop quantitative and qualitative case studies on food systems and diversity therein; governance; value chain; national/regional food security strategies/plans; historical and cultural use of fish-as-food; all linked to SSF guidelines; and
3. Survey the fish consumption, purchasing, food use, and food waste, as a species-based analysis, at the local, national and regional levels.
4. Organize a series of community events as part of the “Great Fish for a Change“ initiative in order to facilitate discussions about the important role of fish for food security and their significance for the local food systems.
I. Special issue or an edited book volume*
The special issue or an edited book volume will cover two major topics: “Fisheries and Food Systems: Cross-pollinations and Synthesis” & “Fish as Food: The Roles of Small-Scale Fisheries to Food Security and Human Nutrition”
a) “Fisheries and Food Systems: Cross-pollinations and Synthesis”
Fisheries, whether large or small, wild or farmed, commercial, artisanal, subsistence, or otherwise, contribute in multiple important ways to the lives and livelihoods of billions of people world-wide. Cross-pollination among fisheries and food systems/food security literatures has been limited, though recently, a handful of important publications have been released that share in an assumption that food security of fishing communities and the sustainability of fish populations and aquatic ecosystems are linked outcomes [1, 2, 3]. An important observation made by these authors is that fisheries, by and large, have been left out of the food systems discourse, and vice versa, and at the peril of developing more sustainable solutions. “Until fish is seen as food, managers, consumers, and researchers will never truly understand fishermen or even begin to manage fish as a part of sustainable food systems” .
The special issue or an edited book volume will explore the importance of small-scale fisheries to food systems and food security at local, regional, and global levels. It will provide a survey of the current state of science on fisheries, food security and food systems, and bring forth perspectives on how to better link and integrate fisheries in food systems discourse. The Fisheries and Food Systems – Cross-Pollinations and Synthesis: Call for contribution has been closed on September 15, 2015.
b) “Fish as Food: The Roles of Small-Scale Fisheries to Food Security and Human Nutrition”
“Fish-as-Food” has been scarcely addressed under the food security and food sovereignty perspectives [1, 2]. Thus, these two critical aspects could be seen as standing points over which the research could elaborate. The contributions regarding these themes could be, but are not restricted to, ethnographic research, participatory research, case studies, and evaluations, which may consider the social, cultural, and nutritional aspects of fish-as-food. Ideally, the research would involve the participation of key representatives of fishing-, and fisheries-related stakeholders as well as other members of the society, directly (or indirectly) linked to the fish-as-food domain.
We are interested in the fish-as-food system as a whole; thus, we aim to explore small-scale fisheries comprehensively, by paying attention to both the fisheries and food system that are being governed, as well as the formal and informal governing systems. The Fish as Food – The Roles of Small-Scale Fisheries to Food Security and Human Nutrition: Call for contribution has been closed on October 31, 2015.
*Note: All contributions submitted for the “Fisheries and Food Systems: Cross-pollinations and Synthesis” special issue as well as those submitted for the “Fish as Food: The Roles of Small-Scale Fisheries to Food Security and Human Nutrition” e-book, will be combined in a special issue or an edited book volume. More detail information about this deliverable will soon be posted on our website.
II. Rapid assessment of fish consumption
The ultimate aim of this cluster is to provide evidence that: fish ‒ and in particular small pelagics ‒ are a critical source of nutrition for humans, and that when more fish are prioritized for local human consumption, both global food security and the sustainability of fisheries will be enhanced. While it is difficult to assess the importance of fish-as-food without detailed studies, a rapid assessment of fish consumption may be a useful starting point.
We are inviting people who have good knowledge and familiarity with the SSF to help conduct the assessment. The analysis will be global and comparative and will be weighted to reflect the level of knowledge and familiarity of the respondents. Information obtained through this process will be compiled into TBTI e-book publication, with contributors’ names appeared as the ‘authors’ of the individual contribution. Depending on the interest, we may have further publications in the future.
To find out more about the assessment and to contribute your data, download the Fish as Food_Rapid Assessment template. The completed template should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org as an attachment.
 Loring, P.A., S. C. Gerlach, and H.Harrison. 2013. “Seafood as Local Food: Food Security and Locally Caught Seafood on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula.” Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development 3 (3): 13–30. doi:10.5304/jafscd.2013.033.006.
 McClanahan, T., Allison, E. H., and Cinner, J. E. 2013. “Managing fisheries for human and food security”. Fish and Fisheries 16(1): 78–103. doi: 10.1111/faf.12045
 Olson, J., P.M. Clay, and P. Pinto da Silva. 2014. “Putting the Seafood in Sustainable Food Systems.” Marine Policy 43 (January): 104–11. doi:10.1016/j.marpol.2013.05.001.
1. A special issue or an edited book volume on “Fisheries and Food Systems: Cross-pollinations and Synthesis” & “Fish as Food: The Roles of Small-Scale Fisheries to Food Security and Human Nutrition”
2. An e-book on fish consumption containing case studies submitted through the rapid assessment exercise
3. A book of essays and recipes on “Great Fish for A Change: The Newfoundland Stories’ + other books based on “Great Fish for A Change” events in other locations
|How to contribute||
1. Sign-up for the Fish-as-Food cluster
Check our website and have a look at our current initiatives and activities. Fish-as-Food cluster welcomes the participation of practitioners, scholars, managers, and all those people related to and interested in Fish-as-Food theme.
2. Complete the rapid assessment exercise on fish consumption. For more details, see the Research Questions section above.
3. Complete SSF Profile
One of the main commitments of TBTI is to make information about SSF comprehensive and available to everyone. The SSF profile in ISSF is developed with this in mind. We would like to encourage all cluster members to help with this task by completing the SSF profile online or by completing the fillable form and email it to email@example.com. We don’t expect that you will have all the required information. Please consult colleagues or literature as necessary.
4. Organize a “Great Fish for a Change” event in your community
Moenieba Isaacs, University of Western Cape, South Africa
Kungwan Juntarashote, Kasetsart University, Thailand
Lindsay Aylesworth, University of British Columbia, Canada
Philip Loring, University of Saskatchewan, Canada