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Centre researchers Max Troell and Patrik Henriksson have together with colleagues issued a rebuttal to criticism of their recent Science paper China’s aquaculture and the world’s fisheries. In the study, which was led by Ling Cao of Center on Food Security and the Environment at Stanford University, the researchers argue that China’s impact on marine ecosystems and global seafood supplies is unrivalled given its dominant role in fish production, consumption, processing and trade.
China's aquaculture sector, by far the world’s largest, is of enormous global importance for meeting the rising demand for food and particularly for animal protein. Understanding the implications of the industry’s past and current practices is important for managing its future impacts and improving its sustainability.
China’s aquaculture sector remains an important “black box” for many scientists and policy analysts
Ling Cao, lead author of the rebuttal
The critique of the article, which is lead by Dong Han of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Freshwater Aquaculture Collaborative Innovation Center of Hubei Province, Wuhan, China, claim that the Science paper does not acknowledge the important contribution of the Chinese aquaculture sector to global food supply and that while China’s aquaculture volume continues to grow, its fishmeal usage remains stable, and the sector will therefore indirectly reduce pressure on wild fish stocks worldwide.
They claim that the Science paper does not acknowledge the important contribution of the Chinese aquaculture sector to global food supply and that they trot out the “Chinese aquaculture threat” theory.
Troell and his colleagues reply that “We are aware of Han and colleagues’ comprehensive work on substitution and sustainable sourcing of fishmeal and fish oil in aquaculture, which is clearly aligned with our perspective. However, we believe that the underlying intention of our Science paper has been seriously misinterpreted, and there are several inaccuracies in their review that are important to clarify and correct.”
There are specifically six issues that the Science authors respond to. Read about the six issues here
In the Science paper, Troell and his colleagues unraveled the complicated nature of China’s expanding aquaculture sector and its multifaceted use of fish inputs in feeds, to the best of our abilities. They also developed a roadmap for China’s aquaculture to become self-supporting of fishmeal by recycling processing wastes from its farmed products as feed.
The rebuttal goes on to say that “China’s aquaculture sector remains an important “black box” for many scientists and policy analysts with respect to farming practices, aquafeed demand, domestic fishmeal production, trash fish consumption, and impacts on global capture fisheries."
"Our paper helps to crack open this black box, and it provides an integrated and innovative perspective on the status and trends of China’s aquaculture development. If Han and colleagues have more accurate data to share, we would be more than happy to take these data into account,” the rebuttal states.
The rebuttal goes on to state: "China’s commitment to the development of more sustainable and responsible aquaculture practices and identify the need for a more "positive intellectual exchange" with Han and colleagues in the future as all strive for this common goal.
Read the full rebuttal here
Max Troell is a system ecologist mainly working with environmental problems associated with aquaculture. This work focuses on inter-linkages between aquaculture and fisheries, on different spatial scales.