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Seas of Sustenance: Navigating ‘Blue Food’ for Indo-Pacific Food Security

Shoba Suri and Subhasree Ray, Seas of Sustenance: Navigating ‘Blue Food’ for Indo-Pacific Food Security, June 2024, Observer Research Foundation.


‘Blue food’ refers to seafood and other food derived from aquatic resources; in the Indo-Pacific region, surrounded by rich water bodies, the concept takes on particular cultural, economic, and ecological significance. Culturally, seafood holds deep-rooted traditions and is integral to the culinary heritage of coastal communities. Marine resources contribute to the region’s economy through fishing, aquaculture, and related industries. Seafood is a rich source of essential nutrients like protein and omega-3 fatty acids and plays a vital role in ensuring food security and nutrition in coastal areas. Blue food also emphasises harnessing the potential of the region’s marine resources and ecosystems to address the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to gender equality, no poverty, zero hunger, decent work, and reduced inequalities. However, this would require a comprehensive approach integrating sustainable practices, technological innovations, and collaborative efforts among nations. The goal is to leverage the maritime environment to develop solutions that not only address the challenges posed by climate change but also ensure resilient and secure food supply for the diverse nations of the Indo-Pacific.

Sustainable development and food security are urgent global issues, especially in the Indo-Pacific region, where socioeconomic inequality, changing climate patterns, and population growth present massive obstacles. The convergence of factors such as the rapidly growing population, complex geopolitics, economic disparities, and environmental degradation has led to food security and sustainable development becoming a priority in the region.

The Indo-Pacific is home to over half of the world’s population, and this population is expected to grow remarkably in the next decades. This growing population is putting tremendous strain on food supplies. Further, crop yields are threatened by rising temperatures, shifting rainfall patterns, and the increasing frequency of extreme weather events, which disrupt agricultural operations. Food security is further threatened by protracted droughts, floods, and cyclones, which can cause crop failures and damage vital infrastructure. Pollution, overfishing, habitat loss, and deforestation are additional drivers of environmental degradation, jeopardising biodiversity and ecosystem health and impacting the availability of natural resources required for human survival and food production. Water scarcity is also emerging as a problem affecting both the agricultural and non-agricultural sectors in the region.

In this context, the maritime resources of the Indo-Pacific hold significant potential for sustainable development. Blue food highlights the importance of marine-based food sources to enhance food security; blue economy promotes sustainable practices to harness marine resources for economic growth, job creation, and trade; and blue finance underscores the need for financial mechanisms to support sustainable blue initiatives and for investments in maritime sectors for long-term environmental and economic benefits.

The region’s rich marine ecosystems can therefore be leveraged to address food security, foster economic development, and promote financial instruments to manage and protect the marine environment. Achieving a balance between economic growth and environmental conservation is vital for a sustainable future. Blue economy not only secures the availability of food from the oceans but also nurtures the planet’s delicate ecosystems. This report conducts a literature review to examine how blue economy based on blue foods can contribute to food security and environmental sustainability. This paper derives from a previous publication on food security concerns across the Indo-Pacific.

Read the report here.

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Shoba Suri

Shoba Suri

Dr. Shoba Suri is a Senior Fellow with ORFs Health Initiative. Shoba is a nutritionist with experience in community and clinical research. She has worked on nutrition, ...

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Subhasree Ray

Subhasree Ray

Dr. Subhasree Ray is the Lead - Nutrition & Wellness (Corporate Medical Services), at Reliance Industries Limited. She writes on nutrition policies, sustainable food systems ...

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