Fish and fish products provide a significant proportion of humanity's animal protein needs. For many of the world's most vulnerable people living on coastal zones or islands, it is a particularly important and often vital source of protein and of many micronutrients necessary for a healthy life.
In the field of fisheries, the principal challenge regarding food security lies in organizing and stimulating production in order that per capita supply of fish as food does not decline while ensuring responsible fishery practices.
In the capture fisheries sector, problems arise due to overfishing and costs of catch for some species. In developing countries these issues are complicated by the low-income of artisanal fishers who are not in a position to maintain sustainable fishing practices to protect future generations, and a lack of enforcement of any regulations in such small outlying communities. Although there is growing pressure to ban certain types of fishing which threaten biodiversity, such bans cannot function alone but must be reinforced by policies which concentrate on selective but economically viable fishing and which include research into unexploited oceanic stocks e.g. mesopolagics and squids. Likewise in the field of coastal fisheries, policies need to be developed which ensure both a sustainable and optimal supply of fish.
A special effort should be made in the aquaculture section to provide high-volume/low-value species which will give an assured supply of affordable fish, bearing in mind that the inputs needed in commercial aquaculture are also used for agriculture or livestock production. However, such aquaculture practices which provide affordable fish have to be closely monitored for possible pollution problems.
In the field of international fish trade, a danger lies in the increase of trade in the low-cost fish which could provide greater exports for fishmeal at the cost of depriving the poor of a basic food. It is important that fishery management systems take into account both the needs of fishers and environmental security.