The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) has published their most recent advice for various pelagic fish. Although, with some fish stocks such as mackerel and whiting, the advice is to catch slightly less than this coming year, there has been a sharp increase in the catch advice for North Sea herring. The improvement in herring stocks is good news, because it demonstrates that careful fisheries management coupled with responsible fishing practice can safeguard the abundance of the stock whilst allowing a sustainable harvest to feed people. Pelagic fish like herring, mackerel and blue whiting are an important food source worldwide, particularly in low-income, food-deficient, inland nations.
Currently, 18% of all fish eaten worldwide is pelagic fish. In poorer countries, this percentage can rise to more than 29%. Seafood is a major protein source worldwide, whose absence would bring food scarcity to communities with little land-based farming. In short, a large part of the world’s population depends on pelagic fish as a source of healthy, animal protein and with the growing world population, the demand for affordable, high-protein food is also increasing.
Food supply: fish is indispensable
As a result, we are facing major challenges in the field of nutrition. For example, in West Africa, with a population of 415 million people, nearly 35% of its children under the age of five are stunted in growth – a sign of a chronically poor diet – while about 5 to 15% of young children die from acute hunger. Knowing that fish can contribute up to 80% of this animal protein supply it is no wonder how important fish and seafood products are in policies relating to food security.
Sustainable for today and tomorrow
Sustainable fishing guarantees that future generations can also enjoy healthy fish. Pelagic fisheries are sustainable. Pelagic fish stocks are in a healthy state and much research is being done into maintaining the size of these fish stocks. The fishing industry adheres to strict laws and regulations. They operate within allocated quota and are highly regulated with frequent data returns to support physical inspections on land and at sea. Due to the large and sustainable size of the fish stocks available, the allowable catch quotas can also be high. These species swim great distances in large, packed schools and as a result, they are caught selectively, with very little bycatch.
Better for the climate
Climate change is an important topic at the upcoming UN conference COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland. The production of food of all types puts a strain on our planet in terms of carbon emissions, and all food producers are facing the challenge of reducing these CO2 emissions. Compared with other products such as beef, pork, chicken and farmed fish, wild-caught pelagic fish has a considerably smaller carbon footprint. This is partly due to the fact that wild pelagic fish does not need to be artificially fed, nor does it require the use of often scarce freshwater supplies.
Cheap source of protein and other nutrients
One of the great advantages of pelagic fish is that it is inexpensive. Pelagic fishing is extremely efficient and due to the large number of fish per catch, relatively little fuel is consumed per kilo of product. As soon as the catch comes on board, it is immediately sorted, frozen and stored in the freezer compartments. Thanks to frozen transport, we can deliver millions of these top-quality healthy, high-protein, affordable meals to consumers around the world relatively cheaply.
Pelagic fish is one of the healthiest, cost-effective, and affordable protein sources that you can get. It is low in cholesterol, has super-healthy long-chain Omega-3 fatty acids and are nutrient rich in riboflavin, vitamin D and B6, iron, selenium, niacin, and calcium – all so important for our health. Nutritional experts advise that we should eat two portions of fish per week, preferably an oil-rich fish such as herring or mackerel. Why not chose mackerel and herring as your perfect meal choice for taste, health and of course, your pockets?
 Max Roser and Hannah Ritchie (2019) – “Hunger and Undernourishment”. Published online on OurWorldInData.org. Source: ‘https://ourworldindata.org/hunger-and-undernourishment’
 Nijdam, Durk & Rood, Geertruida & Westhoek, Henk. (2012). The price of protein: Review of land use and carbon footprints from life cycle assessments of animal food products and their substitutes. Food Policy. 37. 760–770. 10.1016/j.foodpol.2012.08.002.