It is estimated that by the year 2050, Earth’s population will reach more than 9 billion people, creating serious challenges for meeting global food demand while also addressing environmental sustainability concerns.
Seafood consumption has increased steadily over the past four decades, with more than 3 billion people worldwide depending on fish as a major source of protein. Some studies claim that by the end of the century, a quarter of the sustainable fish catch could be gone. The world’s already overtaxed fisheries are being stressed to their limits by climate change.
It’s not necessarily all gloomy news. Recent research led by Assistant Professor of Geography Sarah Lester has introduced an advanced, holistic analytical model that could herald a new paradigm of environmentally sustainable ocean industry management.
In this talk, Dr. Lester discussed the increasing role that marine aquaculture – farming of seafood in the ocean – is likely to play in addressing this wicked problem, both globally and along the Florida Gulf coast.
The issue has been key for Dr. Lester’s research over the years. Currently, she is leading a National Science Foundation-funded project led to examine the socioeconomic and ecological drivers of aquaculture development.
“There’s been very little aquaculture development in the U.S. despite the fact that other analyses have shown that the U.S. has some of the world’s best growing conditions,” Lester said. “The U.S. could be a global leader in aquaculture, but one of the hurdles has been siting, or where to place it. Our model provided a tool for exploring those issues.”
Dr. Lester is an Assistant Professor of Geography.