Peru is one of the world’s leading fishing nations and its seafood industry relies on the trade of a vast variety of aquatic resources, playing a key role in the country’s socio-economic development. DNA barcoding has become of paramount importance for systematics, conservation, and seafood traceability, complementing or even surpassing conventional identification methods when target organisms show similar morphology during the early life stages, have recently diverged, or have undergone processing. Aiming to increase our knowledge of the species diversity available across the Peruvian supply chain (from fish landing sites to markets and restaurants), we applied full and mini-barcoding approaches targeting three mitochondrial genes (COI, 16S, and 12S) and the control region to identify samples purchased at retailers from six departments along the north-central Peruvian coast. DNA barcodes from 131 samples were assigned to 55 species (plus five genus-level taxa) comprising 47 families, 24 orders, and six classes including Actinopterygii (45.03%), Chondrichthyes (36.64%), Bivalvia (6.87%), Cephalopoda (6.11%), Malacostraca (3.82%), and Gastropoda (1.53%). The identified samples included commercially important pelagic (anchovy, bonito, dolphinfish) and demersal (hake, smooth-hound, Peruvian rock seabass, croaker) fish species. Our results unveiled the marketing of protected and threatened species such as whale shark, Atlantic white marlin, smooth hammerhead (some specimens collected during closed season), shortfin mako, and pelagic thresher sharks. A total of 35 samples (26.72%) were mislabeled, including tilapia labeled as wild marine fish, dolphinfish and hake labeled as grouper, and different shark species sold as “smooth-hounds”. The present study highlights the necessity of implementing traceability and monitoring programs along the entire seafood supply chain using molecular tools to enhance sustainability efforts and ensure consumer choice.
Aquaculture, Seafood, and Food Security
A seafood fraud campaign was launched by an ocean conservation group to increase transparency in global seafood supply chains by enacting policies on full chain boat-to-plate traceability for all seafood sold in the U.S. As part of this campaign, online members of the group were recruited to document and collect commercial seafood samples as part of a large investigation of U.S. seafood mislabeling, specifically species substitution. Following an iterative project design including several rounds of pilot testing of sample preservation methods and outreach materials, 1058 of the more than 55,000 members solicited signed up to be a “seafood sleuth” and were mailed seafood testing kits, containing supplies to submit two fish samples of their choice. On average, 33.4% (353/1058) of these citizen scientists in 11 metropolitan areas returned kits that contained 631 samples, or nearly half of the 1263 samples collected in the overall study. Assessment of the quality of citizen science data revealed comparable rates of sample integrity, data completeness and mislabeling compared to samples and data collected by trained scientists. Citizen science outreach provided a more informed and engaged online member population, who continued to take actions to advance seafood traceability policies with their decision makers. Citizen science outreach was an integral part of a successful campaign that included science, communication strategies to garner mass media attention and advocacy to promote seafood traceability which resulted in the first seafood traceability regulation in the U.S.
Ocean acidification and warming may threaten future seafood production, safety and quality by negatively impacting the fitness of marine species. Identifying changes in nutritional quality, as well as species most at risk, is crucial if societies are to secure food production. Here, changes in the biochemical composition and nutritional properties of the commercially valuable oysters, Magallana gigas and Ostrea edulis, were evaluated following a 12-week exposure to six ocean acidification and warming scenarios that were designed to reflect the temperature (+3 °C above ambient) and atmospheric pCO2 conditions (increase of 350–600 ppm) predicted for the mid-to end-of-century. Results suggest that O. edulis, and especially M. gigas, are likely to become less nutritious (i.e. containing lower levels of protein, lipid, and carbohydrate), and have reduced caloric content under ocean acidification and warming. Important changes to essential mineral composition under ocean acidification and warming were evident in both species; enhanced accumulation of copper in M. gigasmay be of concern regarding consumption safety. In light of these findings, the aquaculture industry may wish to consider a shift in focus toward species that are most robust to climate change and less prone to deterioration in quality, in order to secure future food provision and socio-economic benefits of aquaculture.
Food authenticity has received an increasing focus due to high profile cases of substitution/mislabeling, with many investigations identifying sales of endangered or prohibited species. At the same time, the European Union (EU) has introduced one of the most progressive sets of legislation in order to promote traceability and protect consumers. This study aims to identify shark species that are sold under the commercial term “Galeos” in Greece (which officially designates Mustelus mustelus, M. punctulatus and M. asterias), using DNA barcoding. A total of 87 samples were collected from fishmongers and markets across four cities. A combination of two mitochondrial genes, the cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) and the 16S ribosomal RNA (16S), were used to analyze samples, and species were identified by reference to genetic databases. The results revealed significant differences in patterns of species utilization between cities and retailers. Across the study an extremely high level of mislabeling was identified (56%). This probably relates to some degree of unintentional misidentification and confusion surrounding the designation in Greece, but highlights how consumers are unprotected from incorrect/misleading labels. Over half of products originated from species that are locally listed as threatened by the ICUN red list, and of the mislabeled products, 23% originated from species with prohibitions on landings or CITES listings. This includes large growing sharks with little resemblance to Mustelus spp. and likely demonstrates deliberate substitution. It shows how mislabeled products are providing a route for prohibited/protected sharks to enter the supply chain and be sold to consumers.
Multifunctionality is characterized by two key elements: the existence of jointly produced multiple commodity and non-commodity outputs (NCOs), and that NCOs exhibit the characteristics of public goods externalities. The term “multifunctionality” is almost not used outside agriculture. However, several issues discussed in fishery literature and in international contexts clearly refer to public goods provision and joint production. The key point is to recognize if fisheries, similar to agriculture, provide other (public) benefits beyond their primary food supply function. The paper establishes a theoretical framework for the classification and valuation of multifunctionality in fisheries, and outlines policy options to increase (through multifunctionality) social welfare. NCOs include: ecosystem- and biodiversity-related NCOs, other environmental public goods/bads, cultural heritage and coastal viability, coastal employment externalities, food security, and strategic benefits. The main NCO characteristics to be analysed are the degree of jointness between commodity outputs and NCOs, and the distribution of property rights over fish stocks and NCOs. Policy options to increase social welfare include, among others, command and control schemes, market based instruments (e.g., payment for ecosystem services), and marine protected areas. Customary marine tenure institutions, or other modern fishery organizations, may represent a framework for the communitarian provision of NCOs. Fishery subsidies, which can because of overfishing, are justified if they allow increasing social benefits, given by the sum of catch and NCOs value. Particularly, incentives may be necessary to support small-scale fisheries or other less efficient technologies.
We assess the vulnerability to climate change of Korean aquaculture based on predicted changes in seawater temperature and salinity in adjacent sea areas of the Korean Peninsula according to representative concentration pathways (RCP) scenarios. Unlike previous studies that have been conducted mostly on a national scale, we classify 14 farming species in major production regions of the Republic of Korea, and assess their vulnerability for each region, using the indicator-based method and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's definition of vulnerability in order to overcome limitations in developing specific adaptation strategies within a country. First, for each exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity, specific and proper indicators are selected. Subsequently, these indicators are estimated and weighted to analyze vulnerability to climate change. The results show that the absolute level of vulnerability is high in a long-term period of RCP8.5 in which exposure becomes severe, whereas the relative vulnerability is similar among farming species and regions. Specifically, vulnerability is at the highest level in seaweed, such as laver and sea mustard, while fish, shrimp, and abalone are relatively less vulnerable to climate change.
Carrying capacity models for aquaculture have increased in complexity over the last decades, partly because aquaculture growth, sustainability, and licensing are themselves extremely complex. Moreover, there is an asymmetric pattern to all these components, when considered from an international perspective, because of very different regulation and governance of the aquaculture sector in Asia, Europe, and America. Two case studies were used, from Long Island Sound in the United States, and Belfast Lough, in Europe, to examine the interactions between cultivated shellfish and other autochthonous benthic filter-feeders. The objective is to illustrate how such interactions can be incorporated in system-scale ecological models and analyzed from the perspective of ecological carrying capacity. Two different models are described, one based on equations that relate the filtration rate of the hard clam Mercenaria mercenaria to physiological and population factors and one based on a habitat-specific analysis of multiple species of benthic filter-feeders. Both types of models have relative advantages and challenges, and both were integrated in ecosystem modeling frameworks with substantial numbers of state variables representing physical and biogeochemical processes. These models were applied to (1) examine the relative role of the two components (cultivated and wild) in the filtration of particulate organic matter (both phytoplankton and organic detritus), (2) quantify the effect of wild species on harvest of cultivated organisms (eastern oyster and blue mussel), and (3) assess the role of organically extractive aquaculture and other filter-feeders on top–down control of eutrophication.
Key environmental challenges faced by the aquaculture sector demonstrate that aquaculture production is not isolated from the surrounding environment, and we see a policy shift towards area‐based approaches. However, without an understanding of the farmer's perspective, there is a danger of misrepresenting how farm‐level practices relate to area‐based approaches and to environmental risk management. This paper empirically examines how individual aquaculture farmers interpret and manage environmental risks and the extent to which they operate beyond the boundaries of their farms. The analysis is based on a comparison between intensive aquaculture farmers in Kung Krabaen Bay, Thailand, representing an area of closed production systems; and a mixture of integrated mangrove shrimp and extensive shrimp farmers in Kien Vang Forest, Vietnam, representing an area of open production systems. Data were collected through semi‐structured interviews and participatory mapping. The spatial configuration of environmental risk management in both areas demonstrated a focus on the farm. Though farmers did recognise off‐farm risks, this did not result in collectively practised risk management strategies at a broad landscape scale. These observations demonstrate the need to rethink the development of area‐based approaches for both closed and open systems. Instead of the designation of aquaculture zones or all‐encompassing integrated landscape models of area‐based management, the findings suggest an alternative model. This third way of conceptualising spatial models of area‐based aquaculture management is based on a nested set of areas within a landscape defined by the socio‐spatial extent of farmer networks within which the interpretation of risk is homogeneous.
Aquaculture is a booming industry. It currently supplies almost half of all fish and shellfish eaten today, and it continues to grow faster than any other food production sector. But it is immature relative to terrestrial crop and livestock sectors, and as a consequence it lags behind in terms of the use of aquaculture specific financial risk management tools. In particular, the use of insurance instruments to manage weather related losses is little used. In the aquaculture industry there is a need for new insurance products that achieve both financial gains, in terms of reduced production and revenue risk, and environmental wins, in terms of incentivizing improved management practices. Here, we have developed a cooperative form of indemnity insurance for application to small-holder aquaculture communities in developing nations. We use and advance the theory of risk pools, applying it to an aquaculture community in Myanmar, using empirical data recently collected from a comprehensive farm survey. These data were used to parameterize numerical simulations of this aquaculture system with and without a risk pool. Results highlight the benefits and costs of a risk pool, for various combinations of key parameters. This information reveals a path forward for creating new risk management products for aquaculturalists around the world.
Climate change is an immediate and future threat to food security globally. The consequences for fisheries and agriculture production potential are well studied, yet the possible outcomes for aquaculture (that is, aquatic farming)—one of the fastest growing food sectors on the planet—remain a major gap in scientific understanding. With over one-third of aquaculture produced in marine waters and this proportion increasing, it is critical to anticipate new opportunities and challenges in marine production under climate change. Here, we model and map the effect of warming ocean conditions (Representative Concentration Pathway scenario 8.5) on marine aquaculture production potential over the next century, based on thermal tolerance and growth data of 180 cultured finfish and bivalve species. We find heterogeneous patterns of gains and losses, but an overall greater probability of declines worldwide. Accounting for multiple drivers of species growth, including shifts in temperature, chlorophyll and ocean acidification, reveals potentially greater declines in bivalve aquaculture compared with finfish production. This study addresses a missing component in food security research and sustainable development planning by identifying regions that will face potentially greater climate change challenges and resilience with regards to marine aquaculture in the coming decades. Understanding the scale and magnitude of future increases and reductions in aquaculture potential is critical for designing effective and efficient use and protection of the oceans, and ultimately for feeding the planet sustainably.