A fish market near the Indian ocean. Credit: Tane Sinclair-Taylor
Original Published Date: 
Monday, October 14, 2019

Full article issued by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University.

Millions of people across the globe are suffering from malnutrition despite some of the most nutritious fish species in the world being caught near their homes, according to new ARC-supported research published in Nature.

Scientists from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University (Coral CoE at JCU) are part of an international team that found children in many tropical coastal areas could see significant health improvements if just a fraction of the fish caught nearby was diverted into their diets. 

Co-author Dr Philippa Cohen, a WorldFish partner investigator at Coral CoE at JCU, said the research clearly shows that the way fish are distributed needs to be carefully examined.

“Currently many of the world’s fisheries are managed to get the most revenue, often by directing efforts towards catching the highest-priced species and shovelling fish landings towards the mouths of the rich in cities or feeding pets and livestock in wealthier countries,” Dr Cohen said.

The team of 11 researchers recorded the concentration of seven nutrients in more than 350 species of marine fish, many never analysed before, and developed a statistical model to predict how much nutrition any given species of fish contains. This was based on their diet, sea water temperature and energy expenditure.  By comparing this data with the prevalence of nutrient deficiencies around the world, they found that parts of Africa, Asia, the Pacific and the Caribbean were some of the regions with high malnutrition despite sufficient fish nutrients in the national catches.

Photo credit: 

Image: A fish market near the Indian ocean. Credit: Tane Sinclair-Taylor.