Managing fisheries for maximum nutrient yield


Wild-caught fish are a bioavailable source of nutritious food that, if managed strategically, could enhance diet quality for billions of people. However, optimising nutrient production from the sea has not been a priority, hindering development of nutrition-sensitive policies. With fisheries management increasingly effective at rebuilding stocks and regulating sustainable fishing, we can now begin to integrate nutritional outcomes within existing management frameworks. Here, we develop a conceptual foundation for managing fisheries for multispecies Maximum Nutrient Yield (mMNY). We empirically test our approach using size-based models of North Sea and Baltic Sea fisheries and show that mMNY is predicted by the relative contribution of nutritious species to total catch and their vulnerability to fishing, leading to trade-offs between catch and specific nutrients. Simulated nutrient yield curves suggest that vitamin D, which is deficient in Northern European diets, was underfished at fishing levels that returned maximum catch weights. Analysis of global catch data shows there is scope for nutrient yields from most of the world’s marine fisheries to be enhanced through nutrient-sensitive fisheries management. With nutrient composition data now widely available, we expect our mMNY framework to motivate development of nutrient-based reference points in specific contexts, such as data-limited fisheries. Managing for mMNY alongside policies that promote access to fish could help close nutrient gaps for coastal populations, maximising the contribution of wild-caught fish to global food and nutrition security.

Fish and Fisheries