Food from the Oceans

08 December 2017

SAPEA (Science Advice for Policy by European Academies) examining the question of how the ocean can help satisfy the global demand for food.

As an integral part of the Scientific Advice Mechanism (SAM), SAPEA was asked to produce this Evidence Review Report to underpin the Scientific Opinion of the High Level Group (HLG), in response to a request from Commissioner Vella (DG MARE).  The request asked for advice on the question: “How can more food and biomass be obtained from the oceans in a way that does not deprive future generations of their benefits?”

The Evidence Review Report warns that in our extraction of food from the oceans, ‘business as usual’ is not sustainable from social, economic and environmental viewpoints. The report suggests a number of options, which inform the recommendations of the HLG Scientific Opinion. It states that the only way to obtain significantly more food and biomass sustainably from the ocean is to harvest seafood that on average is from a lower trophic level (lower in the food chain) than we currently harvest.

To produce Food from the Oceans, SAPEA worked with academies across Europe and the European Academy Networks to bring together experts in a range of disciplines. The experts formed working groups which were chaired by Professor Poul Holm (Trinity College Dublin) and Professor Dag Aksnes (University of Bergen). Academia Europaea led on this topic.

The Royal Irish Academy is a member of SAPEA through our EASAC and ALLEA networks. The Academy was represented by Stephen Hynes, NUI Galway.

A breakfast briefing will be organised in Dublin in Spring 2018 to discuss the report. If you would like to be informed of the arrangements for this briefing when they are available please email

The SAPEA evidence review report is available at:

The SAM High Level Group Opinion is available at:

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