Governance key to sustaining global food security
Ahmen Khan, a PhD candidate in geography, has contributed to a paper on food security that appears in the Feb. 12 issue of Science.
By Janet Harron
Lack of governance threatens global seafood supplies and the food security of billions of people who rely on fish for protein and livelihoods, according to a policy paper by an international seafood working group in the Feb. 12, 2010, special issue of the journal Science.
According to Ahmed Khan, a PhD candidate at Memorial University and co-author of the paper, “this analysis provides a bigger picture of global seafood concerns in relation to some of the fisheries research we are doing in Newfoundland and Labrador.”
In their Science article, Mr. Khan and his co-authors (comprised of economists, marine scientists and seafood experts) examined the complex environmental, political and economic factors that jeopardize global seafood supplies and livelihoods.
To help safeguard future supply, “the price of seafood has to reflect the cost of maintaining ecosystem health in the countries that capture or farm most of it,” said Martin D. Smith, lead author of the paper and associate professor of environmental economics at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment. “Many imports are coming from developing countries that are not necessarily well-positioned to manage their resources sustainably.”
Three key policy options are discussed, including trade policies that reward sustainable fishing practices, private incentives such as eco-certification, and allocating aid for sustainable fisheries infrastructure in key exporting countries.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Khan’s doctoral research focuses on analyzing the cod fish production chain, pre- and post-collapse, to gain insights into governance challenges and opportunities for a viable and sustainable fishery in the province.
His research is part of the Community - University Research for Recovery Alliance (CURRA), funded by the Canadian Social Science and Humanities Research Council. The goal of the CURRA project is to work with west coast communities to find ways to support recovery of the Northern Gulf fisheries and fishing-dependent communities.
Dr. Barb Neis, principal investigator of the CURRA project, notes the issues raised in the Science article are highly relevant not only to developing countries but also to Newfoundland and Labrador. “As in many parts of the world, Newfoundland and Labrador is facing ongoing challenges with the ecological and social sustainability of our fisheries, effective governance and with food security. Given that for centuries, we provided high quality protein to people in many parts of the world including our population, it is long past time for a focused discussion on using sustainable fisheries to promote food security and to develop a model approach that might be useful elsewhere.
“CURRA researchers Ahmed Khan, Kristen Lowitt and others are collaborating with many partner organizations to try to move us in this direction.”
The Science special issue can be accessed at www.sciencemag.org.