As much as 47 percent of the edible U.S. seafood supply is lost each year, mainly from consumer waste, new research from the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) suggests.
The findings, published in the November issue of Global Environmental Change, come as food waste in general has been in the spotlight and concerns have been raised about the sustainability of the world’s seafood resources. In the U.S. and around the world, people are being advised to eat more seafood, but overfishing, climate change, pollution, habitat destruction, and the use of fish for other purposes besides human consumption threaten the global seafood supply.
“If we’re told to eat significantly more seafood but the supply is severely threatened, it is critical and urgent to reduce waste of seafood,” says study leader Dr. David Love, a researcher with the Public Health and Sustainable Aquaculture project at the CLF and an assistant scientist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
The new study analyzed the food waste issue by focusing on the amount of seafood lost annually at each stage of the food supply chain and at the consumer level.
After compiling data from many sources, the researchers estimated the U.S. edible seafood supply at approximately 4.7 billion pounds per year, which includes domestic and imported products minus any exported products. Some of the edible seafood supply is wasted as it moves through the supply chain from hook or net to plate. They found that the amount wasted each year is roughly 2.3 billion pounds. Of that waste, they say that 330 million pounds are lost in distribution and retail, 573 million pounds are lost when commercial fishers catch the wrong species of fish and then discard it (a concept called bycatch) and a staggering 1.3 billion pounds are lost at the consumer level.
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