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Juvenile salmon in a hatchery in Russia. Photo: Yuri Smityuk\TASS via Getty Images

New research charts out how improvements in aquaculture and sustainable fishing could significantly increase food production from the sea by midcentury.

Why it matters: Global demand for food and particularly protein is projected to rise in step with human population growth. With little new land available to be sustainably opened for farming, our best bet may be the oceans — provided we can better manage that resource.

What's new: In a paper published Wednesday in Nature, researchers led by Christopher Costello of the University of California, Santa Barbara, argue that the right policies could increase annual global production of food from the sea by up to 44 million tonnes by 2050.

  • That would account for a quarter of the increase in all meat required to feed a projected 9.8 billion people by midcentury.

Background: Costello's projections may sound surprising, given years of reports that overfishing would essentially empty the oceans over the next several decades.

  • But he says that while seafood may indeed collapse if we "fail to implement sound mariculture policies," the world is trending toward improved fishery management. If those trends continue, we can both produce "substantially more food than today" and do so in a more sustainable fashion.

While right now most ocean seafood comes from wild-caught fisheries, Costello foresees a shift toward mariculture — fish farming at sea.

  • That will require diversifying the diet of farmed fish away from other fish species — which is contributing to overfishing — and toward sustainable sources like insects, algae and microbes.
  • Consumers will also need to diversify their taste preferences, meaning less salmon and tuna fillets and more oysters and mussels.

The bottom line: If the future means more steamed mussels with white wine and garlic, I'm all for it.

Go deeper

50 mins ago - World

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Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny. Photo: Oleg Nikishin/Epsilon/Getty Images

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has been ordered to remain in pre-trial detention for 30 days, following his arrest upon returning to Russia on Sunday for the first time since a failed assassination attempt last year.

Why it matters: The detention of Navalny, an anti-corruption activist and the most prominent domestic critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has already set off a chorus of condemnations from leaders in Europe and the U.S.

Biden picks Warren allies to lead SEC, CFPB

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden has selected FTC commissioner Rohit Chopra to be the next director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and Obama-era Wall Street regulator Gary Gensler to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Why it matters: Both picks are progressive allies of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and viewed as likely to take aggressive steps to regulate big business.

The perils of organizing underground

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Researchers see one bright spot as far-right extremists turn to private and encrypted online platforms: Friction.

Between the lines: For fringe organizers, those platforms may provide more security than open social networks, but they make it harder to recruit new members.