No seafood for consumption in about 50 years – director

KOTA KINABALU: Unless something is done to check the decline of marine biodiversity, there will be no seafood for consumption in about 50 years from now, Borneo Marine Research Institute of Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) director Professor Dr Saleem Mustafa said.

Speaking to reporters at the launching of the Annual International Seminar on Marine Science & Aquaculture: Ocean Health & Our Future by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Yahya Hussin yesterday, Dr Saleem said over the last 200 years, marine health had been declining.

“We expect that if seafood supply decline does not stop, we will have serious problem with food security. In about 50 years from now, most of the seafood will be history and if biodiversity continues to decline at the rate which is taking place now, we will have serious problem,” he said.

According to Dr Saleem, fish that is served on the dining table are also a part of the world’s eco-system and depleting stock will take a toll on the eco-system.

He pointed out that the resilience of the eco-system is also threatened by climate change and the seminar will look into all these pertinent issues. Resolutions will be made and released to the public on March 21, he said.

Meanwhile, organizing committee chairperson Associate Professor Dr Rossita Shapawi said about 120 people, 32 from 10 different countries including Japan, Korea, India, Netherlands and the Philippines are taking part in the seminar.

“The seminar’s objective is we want to share knowledge specifically on marine science and aquaculture through an open scientific discussion for all researchers and stakeholders. There will also be a special session for stakeholders in Sabah on the second day of the seminar with specific discussions on Tun Mustapha Marine Park in Kudat,” she said.

Dr Rossita pointed out that the issue of seafood security is assuming increasingly serious proportions with loss of sustainability in many fishery stocks and the rapid development of aquaculture is in response to the decline in captured fisheries.

Aquaculture too is facing challenges as it tries to bridge the widening gap between supply and demand, she said.

According to Dr Rossita, innovation is the keyword for aquaculture development and the innovative pathways require a shift in perspectives and paradigms, without which it will be difficult to ensure sustainability of aquaculture in the 21st century.

“We need to share knowledge on emerging trends and new technologies for aquaculture development to address concerns related to seafood security, safety, sustainability, environmental compatibility and profitability.

“We cannot give up on captured fishes and need to continue to build resilience in marine critical habitats, especially blue carbon stocks and coral reefs and marine biodiversity while making mitigation of climate change a global agenda for action on a fast track.

“We will follow up the discussion in this seminar on a more focused topic of sustainability in next year’s Annual International Conference,” she said adding: “Without our stewardship role, the dysfunction of the vital components of the life support systems of the ocean will undermine the services that oceans provide and help all forms of life on earth.

She pointed out that climate change which is now underway and is caused by human activities linked to industrialization is impacting oceans as never before.

“A major effect in the form of acidification of seawater has enormous implications and we have started to see its results in the form of dead zones, blooming of jellyfish, bleaching of corals and many other effects on marine life,” she said.

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