Integrating food and nutrition into fisheries and aquaculture management

Despite the important role that aquatic foods play in global food systems, the management of fisheries and aquaculture is predominantly skewed toward economic and environmental outcomes. Globally, fewer than 50% of fisheries management policies identified nutrition as a key objective in the sector (Koehn et al., 2021), and many of these types of objectives prioritise increasing availability as the mechanism to improve food security and nutrition (Farmery et al., 2021).

However, food security consists of several dimensions in addition to availability, including access, utilization, and stability. The ways in which aquatic foods can best contribute to these dimensions require further investigation, a gap that we will tackle through this project. Furthermore, additional dimensions of the food security concept – agency and sustainability – also require more consideration, given the widening food system inequalities and the intricate connections between ecological systems and food systems (Clapp et al., 2022; HLPE, 2020). These additional dimensions are particularly relevant to aquatic foods which are reliant on natural systems, and also play a critical role in the diets of Indigenous people, and those living in small island developing states.

In order to establish nutrition-sensitive aquaculture and fisheries policies, and to incorporate these directly into food policy and global food system dialogues and action, this research project focuses on how these sectors can best address the full range of food security dimensions. Recent research has highlighted how specific nutrients in aquatic foods can address particular nutrition deficiencies (Hicks et al, 2019; Golden et al, 2021), and we are working to expand our understanding beyond nutrients to consider relationships between food consumption patterns and health outcomes (Jacobs and Tapsell, 2007). Aquatic foods are highly nutritious, but they also have significant cultural and culinary roles and requirements. Importantly, most people do not choose what aquatic foods to eat based on their nutritional composition.

We are working to identify both recommended approaches to improve food outcomes from fisheries and aquaculture as well as specific management actions. We are currently interviewing fishery and aquaculture experts across academia, government, industry and communities to help develop and enable a food-based approach to management, that address the six pillars of food and nutrition security.


If you are interested in being involved in this research project, please contact the project lead Dr Anna Farmery:

This research is funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC) (project ID DE230100069) and is part of the ‘Fish in Sustainable Food Systems’ program at the Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security (ANCORS), University of Wollongong, Australia (