No fish story

The Malaysian Insider
09 September, 2013

Affected modern gastronomy aside, the concept of feeding the world has changed drastically. It has grown from a romantic, albeit naive, notion into a mortifying epiphany of sorts. A little like when you realise that the extinction of sharks, thanks to our reckless indifference, has opened the doors to the global domination of the rabidly propagative (and highly predatory) giant Humboldt squid. (And while I’m all for a little grilled squid from time to time; I want my goby, grouper and four-finger threadfin as well.)

The fear of collapsing ecosystems notwithstanding, the more immediately alarming truth to haunt my recurrent gastro hallucinations is that in a rapidly populated earth – 7 billion and counting – a sustained majority of the civilised market has developed a somewhat ravenous penchant for seafood.

According to the United Nations’ The State Of World Fisheries And Aquaculture 2012 report, fish affords about 3 billion of us with almost 20% of our intake of animal protein, and 4.3 billion people with about 15% of such protein.

All in all, we are looking at about 148 million tonnes of fish (in 2010, that had a total value of US$217.5 billion), of which about 128 million tonnes were used as food for people, with preliminary data for 2011 indicating an increased production of 154 million tonnes, of which 131 million tonnes were destined as food.

And before we start excusing ourselves from the equation, let us recognise that Singapore is one of the biggest seafood consumers in Asia Pacific, devouring an average of 100,000 tonnes of seafood each year, based on studies by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

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