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Consideration of food and nutrition in blue economy voluntary commitments

Cite this dataset

Farmery, Anna (2021). Consideration of food and nutrition in blue economy voluntary commitments [Dataset]. Dryad.


Increasing the production of food from the ocean is seen as a pathway towards more sustainable and healthier human diets. Yet this potential is being overshadowed by competing uses of ocean resources in an accelerating ‘blue economy’. The current emphasis on production growth, rather than equitable distribution of benefits, has created three unexamined or flawed assumptions that: growth in the blue economy will lead to growth in blue food production; increased production will inevitably lead to improved food and nutrition security; and mariculture production will replace marine capture fisheries. In this Perspective, we argue that if research and policies are pursued without addressing these ‘blind spots’, ‘blue food’ contributions to reducing hunger and malnutrition, and to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals, will be limited. Taking a broader food system approach, beyond production to also consider food access, affordability and consumption, will refocus the ‘blue food’ agenda on making production and consumption more equitable and sustainable, while increasing access for those who need it most.


Voluntary commitments from three events were examined: the UN Oceans conference 2017, the Nairobi Sustainable Blue Economy conference 2018, and Our Ocean Conference 2017, 2018 and 2019. For the UN Oceans Conference, all 1608 commitments made between 2017 and March 13 2020 were examined for those that identified as part of the Blue Economy Community of Action (n=407) or specifically stated Blue Economy ambitions (n= 24) to be included in the analysis. For the Our Oceans conference, of the total 1108 commitments made, those categorised as belonging to the Sustainable Blue Economy theme (n=209) were analysed.

The text of commitments from all three events (n= 431+210+209) were searched for reference to mariculture, aquaculture and fisheries, as well as for food system elements including value chain, food security, and nutrition. The number of commitments was analysed rather than the value as many commitments did not cite a financial value, or included total values of larger projects. The key search parameter for mariculture was ‘culture’, where commitments specifying a stated desire to improve, increase or develop mariculture or aquaculture, exclusive of those that relate specifically to fresh water systems e.g. tilapia, were noted. Key search parameters for value chains were ‘value’ and ‘chain’ where commitments specifying the value chain or supply chain or parts thereof, e.g. processing were noted. The search excluded value chains for aquaculture feed e.g. traceability in the salmon feed supply chain. For nutrition, all commitments with a stated desire to improve nutrition outcomes in humans were noted. For food security all commitments stating a desire to increase, improve or achieve food security were noted. Key search parameters were ‘food’, ‘security’, ‘access’, ‘affordability’ and ‘utilisation’. Key search parameters for sustainable fisheries were ‘fisher’ and ‘stock’, where commitments stating a desire to sustainably manage and use fisheries were noted, excluding commitments to conserve fish for other purposes such as tourism.

Usage notes

The comments are current up to March 13, 2020. New commitments may have been made since this time.


Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security, University of Wollongong