In the ongoing battle against obesity, heart disease and diabetes in the Pacific region
In the ongoing battle against obesity, heart disease and diabetes in the Pacific region, a new study has revealed that allocating sufficient tuna for local consumption and keeping it affordable could significantly improve health outcomes.
Pacific Island communities have the highest rates of obesity and diabetes in the world, primarily because traditional foods such as root crops, fish and shellfish are being replaced by relatively cheap, energy-dense and nutritionally-poor imported foods.
Increased consumption of fish and shellfish, which are rich in protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, is seen as an important part of the solution.
The study, published in the journal Marine Policy, found that by 2020 people in the 22 Pacific Island countries and territories would need 268,000 tonnes of fish a year for food security, increasing to 344,000 tonnes by 2035.
Current total fish consumption is around 210,000 tonnes a year, and most of this fish is caught from coral reefs.
However, coastal fisheries based on coral reefs in many Pacific Island countries and territories do not have the capacity to produce more fish. In fact, there will be fewer reef fish per person as human populations increase.
The study argues that the goal of making more tuna available for local food security should be included in regional and national tuna management plans to ensure sufficient quantities are allocated.