Fish and health

understanding the links between agriculture and health

Fish production is an important source of livelihoods among the world’s poor, and fish consumption has long been known to have nutritional benefits. The dynamics of the world’s fisheries-and fish consumption-are changing, bringing health-related challenges. This brief describes the various links and the challenges they present… The importance of fish for the health of consumers and producers demands policy attention. For poor riparian and coastal populations, national and local fisheries management policies need to incorporate the need for access to fish, especially nutrient-dense small fish species, and fisheries by these groups. Thus, it is critical to develop and disseminate sustainable aquaculture technologies that are suitable for adoption by the rural poor, such as making use of rice paddies, irrigation canals, and seasonal ponds to produce fish both for sale and for consumption. In addition, aquaculture in these water bodies can promote human health by controlling mosquitoes, and thereby malaria, as well as snails that bear schistosomiasis parasites. For growing urban populations, measures are needed to increase fish intake as a means of curbing the rise of chronic diseases. To cope with urban demand, intensification of aquaculture is thought to be the way forward. This entails the use of technologies (breeding, management, and biotechnology) to raise productivity and requires large private and public sector investments… [T]he overexploitation of fish and fisheries to satisfy demand for fish consumption, fish meal, and fish oil and to generate economic and income growth has resulted in serious risks to the health and well-being of the poor, the environment, wild fish stocks, the quality of fish, and the viability and sustainability of the fisheries sector.

Roos, Nanna
Wahab, Md. Abdul
Chamnan, Chhoun
Haraksingh Thilsted, Shakuntala
Published date: 
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
Series number: 
PDF file: