Fish as Food

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.

Research questions

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” [3].

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 as an attachment.



[1] 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.

[2] 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

[3] 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

Additional material

TBTI webinar series on Fish as Food: The importance of fish as food


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 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

If you are interested in organizing a “Great Fish for a Change” event in your community, send us an email to We would love to work with you!

Cluster coordinators

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

Cluster members
Name Affiliation Country
Abdul, Waidi Federal University of Agriculture Nigeria
Abura, Samson Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization Uganda
Adekoya Oriyomi, Ezekiel Federal University of Agriculture Nigeria
Adeleye, Abisayo Lagos State University Nigeria
Akintola, Shehu Lagos State University Nigeria
Alam, Md Mahbub Marine Fisheries Academy, Ministry of Fisheries & Livestock Bangladesh
Allen, Maggie University of Washington USA
Alp-Ercelan, Aly Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum Pakistan
Anene, Afamdi Abia State University Nigeria
Anton, Paula FAO Egypt
Arthur, Robert MRAG UK
Asase, Amos University of Energy and Natural Resources Ghana
Audu, Emmanuel Lagos State University Nigeria
Bailey, Megan Dalhousie University Canada
Baker, Iggy Memorial University of Newfoundland Canada
Balaraman, Subramanian Our Sea Our People India
Bannwart, Janaina Fishery coordinator of Epagri Brazil
Barter, Lachlan University Center for the Westfjords Iceland
Bassett, Hannah Univesity of Washington USA
Bavington, Dean MUN Canada
Beitl, Christine University of Maine USA
Belton, Ben WorldFish Bangladesh
Bennett, Abigail Duke University USA
Breckwoldt, Annette Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology (ZMT) Breman
Brown, Heather University of Southampton UK
Cakacaka, Akuila Institute of Tropical Marine Research Germany
Campbell, Brooke University of Wollongong Australia
Cardoso, Inês Marine and Environmental Sciences Centre Portugal
Carvalho, Julia UFSC Universidade federal de Santa Catarina Brazil
Carvalho da Silva, Maria Helena Unifeso-Centro Universitario da Serra dos Órgãos Brazil
Cavaco, Patricia Sustainability Consultant Portugal
Chambers, Catherine University Centre of the Westfjords Iceland
Chamanara, Vahid Hormozgan University Iran
Cohen, Philippa WorldFish Australia
Coswig Kalikoski, Daniela FAO Italy
Cowx, Ian University of Hull International Fisheries Institute UK
Creaghan, Phoebe Dalhousie University Canada
Cronin, Holly McGill University Canada
Cruz-Torres, Maria Arizona State University USA
Davis, Reade Memorial University of Newfoundland Canada
Da Silva Batista, Vandick Universidade Federal de Alagoas Brazil
De Freitas, Debora Biosciences Institute São Paulo State University-UNESP, Coastal Campus Brazil
Delisle, Aurelie Australian National Centre for Ocean resources & Security Australia
Doyle, Emily MUN Canada
Ekpe, Sonigitu Michael Okpara University of Agriculture Nigeria
Elegbede, Isa Brandenburg University of Technology Germany
Esteves, Pedro Fundação Instituto de Pesca do Estado do Rio de Janeiro Brazil
Evans, Louisa University of Exeter UK
Ezekiel, Martha Lagos State University Nigeria
Falade, Adekunle Lagos State University Nigeria
Ferrer, Alice University of the Philippines Visayas Philippines
Fiorella, Katie Cornell University USA
Floro, Julien Marine conservationist Portugal
Fofandi, Kamlesh Volunteer India
Franz, Nicole FAO Italy
Friedman, Kim FAO Italy
Gabriel, Oyediji Lagos State University Nigeria
Garcia-Quijano, Carlos University of Rhode Island USA
Gephart, Jessica SESYNC USA
Gervasio, Horacio Small Scale Fisheries - Mozambique Mozambique
Ginindza, Joseph University of the Western Cape South Africa
Giron-Nava, Alfredo Scripps Institution of Oceanography USA
Godjali, Nandana Masyarakat dan Perikanan Indonesia (MDPI) Foundation Indonesia
Goetting, Kathryn Oregon State University USA
Golden, Christopher Harvard School of Public Health USA
Gurung, Tek Nepal Agricultural Research Council Nepal
Hall, Pam Memorial University of Newfoundland Canada
Hammer, Jacob Viking USA
Hapke, Holly East Carolina University USA
Haro, María Isabel The University of Queensland Australia
Harris, Craig Michigan State University USA
Hart, Paul University of Leicester UK
He, Kevin Oceana USA
Hicks, Christina Stanford University and James Cook University USA
Hisham, Jafer Department of Fisheries. Union Territory of Lakshadweep India
Hudson, Joanna Blue Ventures UK
Humphries, Austin University of Rhode Island USA
Hunnam, Kim Charles Darwin University Australia
Hurley, Michael LiveWater International USA
Ichien, Stephanie Oregon State University USA
James, Mark University of St Andrews UK
Jatoi, Qamer Uddin University of Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa Pakistan
Johnson, Derek University of Manitoba Canada
Johnson, Magnus University of Hull UK
Jouanneau, Charlène Charlène Jouanneau Consultant France
Kasuti, Joseph State department of fisheries and the blue economy Kenya
K. E. Nunoo, Francis University of Ghana Ghana
Kehinde, Adekeye Fisheries society of Nigeria Nigeria
Kolding, Jeppe University of Bergen Norway
Kotowicz, Dawn University of Rhode Island USA
Kraan, Marloes Wageningen Marine Research The Netherlands
Lam, Mimi University of British Columbia Canada
Lamb, Norlan Conch - Conserving our natural cultural history Belize
Lau, Jacqueline ARC Centre for Excellece in Coral Reef Studies Australia
Lazar, Najih University of Rhode Island USA
Leeney, Ruth Protect Africa's Sawfishes Mozambique
Leite, Marta Natural Resources Institute,University of Manitoba Canada
Levkoe, Charles Lakehead University Canada
Little, Dave University of Stirling UK
Loring, Philip University of Saskatchewan Canada
Loury, Erin FISHBIO Laos
Love, Dave Johns Hopkins University USA
Lowitt, Kristen McGill University Canada
Lueiro, Xoán Inacio Amoedo Consultant Spain
Maharaj, Ben Institute of Marine Affairs Trinidad and Tobago
Manyungwa-Pasani, Chikondi Department of Fisheries Malawi Malawi
Marjadi, Meghna The Ohio State University USA
Martinez Tovar, Ivan Ocean Outcomes USA
Marques, Elineide UFT Brazil
Maxwell, Kimberley Victoria University of Wellington New Zealand
McClean, Nick University of Technology Sydney Australia
McClenachan, Loren Colby College USA
McGreavy, Bridie University of Maine USA
Mensah, Isaac Cardiff University UK
Mhlanga, Wilson Department of Environment Science Bindura University of Science Education Zimbabwe
Miller, Karly Marie University of California USA
Mozumder, Mohammad PhD student Finland
Msomphora, Mbachi UiT the Arctic University of Norway Norway
Mueller, Miriam Universidad Autónoma de Sinaloa Mexico
Mungoni, Sibonginkosi Platform for Agrobiodiversity Research Zimbabwe
Mvula, Stanley Department of Fisheries Malawi
Myers, Bonnie USGS USA
Nauen, Cornelia Mundus maris - Sciences and Arts for Sustainability Belgium
Nuno, Ana University of Exeter UK
Olamilekan, Phillips Lagos State University Nigeria
Oliveira, Ticiano Federal University of Alagoas Brazil
Oriyomi Adekoya, Ezekiel Federal University of Agriculture Nigeria
Oseni, Ismaila Lagos State University Nigeria
Palmer, Roy Aquaculture without Frontiers Australia
Parker, Kashiefa International Ocean Institute South Africa
Paulraj, Jawahar Fisheries College and Research Institute, Tamil Nadu Fisheries University India
Pecku, Amakwo Lagos State University Nigeria
Petersen, Carolyn University of Exeter UK
Pierce, Graham University of Aberdeen / University of Aveiro UK
Pinto da Silva, Patricia National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administation (NOAA Fisheries) USA
Poitevin, Chloe Memorial University of Newfoundland Canada
Pomeroy, Carrie University of California Sea Grant USA
Rachmawati, Laksmi Indonesian Institute of Sciences Indonesia
Ragusa, Gianluca International Independent consultant - Fisheries and aquaculture specialist Italy
Rahman, Mofizur World Fish Consultant Bangladesh
Rainville, Tiffanie World Fisheries Trust- Amazon Fish for Food project Bolivia
Ramenzoni, Victoria Harte Research Institute, Texas A&M University USA
Ratzel, Meri Independent research - socioeconomics - Fish Locally Collaborative USA
Rakotondrazafy Andriamampandry, Riambosoa Madagascar LMMA Network Madagascar
Reghu, Raghu Prakash Central Insitute Of Fisheries Technology India
Revold, Jens UiT-Arctic University of Norway Norway
Richard, Natalie Alaska Pacific University USA
Romero, Ronnie National Fisheries Research and Development Institute Philippines
Rouhani, Qurban Rhodes University South Africa
Saba, Abdulwakil University of Lagos Nigeria
Said, Alicia PhD Student, University of Kent UK
Saine, Dawda Foday National Sole Fishery Co- management Committee Gambia
Satapornvanit, Arlene Nietes USAID Oceans and Fisheries Partnership Thailand
Schneider, Katharina Heidelberg University Germany
Scholtens, Joeri University of Amsterdam Netherlands
Sequeira, Vera MARE - Marine and Environmental Sciences Center Portugal
Serrat, Alba Universitat de Girona Spain
Seto, Katherine UC Berkeley USA
Simmance, Alison University of Southampton UK
Simmance, Fiona University of Southampton UK
Siriwardane-de Zoysa, Rapti Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology (ZMT) Germany
Snape, Robin University of Exeter Cyprus
Sobo, Fatma Assistant Director of Fisheries Tanzania
Solari, Natasha Stellenbosch University South Africa
Stacey, Natasha Charles Darwin University Australia
Steenbergen, Dirk Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security Australia
Stoll, Joshua University of Maine USA
Suebpala, Wichin Ramkhamhaeng University Thailand
Sule, Fatimah Lagos State University Nigeria
Taiwo, Ganzallo Sylvester Lagos State University Nigeria
Tarai, Sailendra Utkal University India
Thigale, Durga UNDP and Mangrove Cell, Maharashtra India
Tubino, Rafael Universidade Federal Fluminense Brazil
Turner, Rachel University of Exeter UK
Urteaga, Jose E-IPER / Stanford University Nicaragua
Valence, Mutwedu Universite Evangelique en Afrique Democratic Republic of the Congo
Wallemacq, Florence FAO Mauritius
Ward, Ansen Fisheries consultant UK
Wessels, Peter Dalhousie University Canada
Wise, Sarah AFSC, NOAA USA
Witter, Allison UBC Fisheries Centre Canada
Yingst, Alexandra University Centre of the Westfjords Iceland
Young, Samantha San Diego Zoo Global USA
Zhao, Lily University of Washington USA