International Conference on the Economic Importance of Fisheries and their impact on Public Health.

McCarrison Society members joined delegates from London Metropolitan University (LMU), particularly the Institute of Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition (IBCHN), attending the International Conference on the Economic Importance of Fisheries and their impact on Public Health in Muscat, Sultanate of Oman, March 8-10, 2008.

It was designed jointly by the Ministry of Fisheries (above), Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), the Institute of Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition and London Metropolitan University.


The mission of the conference was to consider and discuss ‘the economic importance of Fisheries and their impact on Omani public health’. Dr Yahya bin Mahfoudh Al Mantheri, chairman of the State Council, inaugurated the conference.

Highlighting the importance of the conference, and the role of the Ministry of Fisheries, Sultan Qaboos and London Metropolitan Universities, Dr Mantheri pointed out that the papers and researches would be reviewed during the conference, including the Sultanate’s own experience in Fisheries.

Held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Muscat, the opening was attended by Their Excellences the Minister and the Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Fisheries, members of the Omani Royal Family, officials and dignitaries of the Sultanate, some 40 overseas delegates and a further 200 delegates, scientists and medical doctors and undergraduates from Sultan Qaboos University.
Our society chairman Michael Crawford, and several McCarrison Society members played parts in organising and giving papers to this forward-thinking conference, together with Dr Linus Opera (chairman of the Internation Scientific Committee) and Dr Izzeldin Alsharief chief rapporteur who worked tirelessly and looked after guests immaculately.


Oman            Tunisia
UK                Saudi Arabia
Italy                Indonesia
India                Sweden
Lebanon            France    
Syria                Bahrain             
Uganda            Morocco
Iraq                Sudan
United Arab Emirates   Egypt

After initial ceremonies, and an address by HE Dr Harmed bin Said Al-Oufi, came a short paper from Michael Crawford who explained the supreme importance of the waters covering our planet as a major future food source.

Professor Crawford explained that whilst we call our planet ‘earth’, 70% of its surface is water, whence all life began. Of the landmass, much is desert and mountain. Many soils in this longest interglacial for 2 million years are currently exhausted of minerals, as pointed out by Simon House in his paper on maternal nutrition and generating healthy brains. For not only are we short of  n-3 EFAs but of the several important minerals and trace elements essential for their utilisation. Fish and aqua foods are an excellent source of all these ‘brain-specific’ nutrients

Weathering of our diminishing soils, by storm and flood, over-cropping by natural and un-natural methods of agriculture, have depleted soils of many of their minerals and trace elements.

Environmental evolutionists have repeatedly published hard science regarding the evolution of the brain and the eyes, the origins of which had their birth in the oceans 500 – 600 million years ago, followed by the blood-clotting mechanism, scarcely altered since that found in the puffer fish of some 450 million years ago.

Professor Crawford explained that since the Neolithic, consumption of fish and other valuable aquatic foods such as edible seaweeds, freshwater weeds and algae has declined. We now have an overabundance of n-6 supplied by seeds and meat, and a deficit of n-3 supplied by green leaves and fish, leading to physical and mental ill-health. The essential biochemical involved in the brain, the retina, nerve tissue and in most cell membranes is n-3 DHA. It is the supreme molecule for carrying electrical impulses: therefore its high requirement in brain, retina and nervous tissue. Apart from animal brains and other organs, the only main source and far the richest source is marine, algae and fish – foods from the ocean.

Oman is blessed with rich fishing grounds, particularly on its long East and South coasts and the Arabian Ocean. If, guessing - by the colourful mountain ranges we travelled through, some orange (iron and manganese), some white or black or green… some probably basalt, a well-known supplier of minerals (particularly selenium).

Professor Ewen McClean from Alltec Inc, US, explained how ‘designer fish’, fed high levels of selenium (Se) would increase the Se levels of the consumer. One fillet of tuna supplies around 80% of the daily recommended amount of selenium.

Dr Izzelden al Sharief pointed out that fish remains a superb source of a wide range of essential nutrients including iodine, from which deficiency it is estimated that some 1.6 billion people are at risk, on which he spoke clearly. Iodine deficiency remains the single biggest cause of mental ill-health.

The rugged mountains are in the same landblock as Iran to north across the Gulf of Oman, which shares similar rock formations and mountain ranges. This suggests a mineral rich region and mineral rich seas. Oman is blessed with abundant warmth and sunshine. Yet, as more than one Omani delegate suggested ‘people don’t eat enough fish: whilst eating too much meat and rice’.

Dr Jihan Al Tawilah, WHO representative in the Sultanate, highlighted the world strategy for nutrition and physical activity and the initiatives taken by other WHO member countries in efforts to stem the risk of chronic disease.

Meanwhile in Europe the greatest medical threat is posed by increasing mental ill-health - €386 billion at 2004 prices – which must be considerably more today. Predictions put mental disorders as affecting 30% of the UK population by 2015.

Several delegates pointed to the disastrous food policies adhered to during the last 70 years which have led to the above prospect for future generations.
Populations of UK and US are already 40% obese: mental health and allergies affect half the populations of EU and US. Diabetes is rife – on which subject Dr Clara Lowry (IBCHN) spoke. Professor Keb Gebremeskel’s paper on sickle cell anaemia registered the deficiencies of n- 3 in that equation (see programme, below).

The ideal balance of n-6: n-3 is 2:1. That ratio is now wildly distorted in US and N. Europe to 10:1, 20:1, even to 40:1. This unnatural ratio jeopardises the integrity of cell membranes with resultant ill-health, manifesting itself in lack of happiness, violence, misery and war.

The conference unanimously endorsed the view that the health benefits of eating fish and aquatic foods, far out-weighs the alleged risk from pollution.

This impressive conference produced the Muscat Declaration: it is model blueprint for other countries, particularly those in the Northern hemisphere.


Opening Ceremony

Welcome Address by HE Honorable Minister of Fisheries Wealth
Thank you address from the Omani Delegation and Overview of the Scientific Program by Dr Linus U. Opara - Chairman of the Scientific Committee

Reply to the Minister on behalf of the Overseas Delegates with comments on “Oceanic Resources as the Future of the 21st Century” A strategy to protect the future health and abilities of children especially those still to be born, through marine resource development Prof Michael Crawford.

Reply to His Excellency, Dr. Hamed bin Said Al Oufi. Undersecretary, Ministry of Fisheries and Wealth
Michael A. Crawford. Mother and Child Foundation. c/o Institute of Brain Chemistry & Human Nutrition, London Metropolitan University. 166-220 Holloway Road, N7 8DB, UK This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Your highnesses, excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, I first wish to express on behalf of all the overseas visitors, our deep appreciation and thanks for the warmth and kindness with which we have been greeted in your country and for the generosity of the Ministry of Fisheries Wealth in hosting this conference. I also wish to thank Izzeldin Hussein and Linus Opera for the hard work they and their colleagues have invested in
Professor Michael Crawford and Dr. Hamad Al Oufi       making this event happen. When your Excellency, Izzeldin Hussein and I met at your Ministry this time last year, I knew from your foresight, inspiration and thoughtfulness that this meeting would happen. I now hope that during the next three days we will deliver what you expect of us.

This conference is foremost about Oman and its fisheries but it is my belief, and yours, that its outcome will echo needs internationally to uphold the nutritional importance of fish and sea foods to human health and prosperity, and in particular to uphold the neglected dignity and pivotal importance of maternal nutrition and health in her interest and in securing the health and prosperity of the child she is bearing. Dr. Mark Belsey, when Director of Maternal and Child Health at WHO in Geneva, commented at a conference of the Mother and Child Foundation in 19921, that “everywhere the interests of the child were rightly served” by UNICEF, Save the Children Fund and ubiquitous Institutes of Child Health. “But there was no voice for the mother”. Ten years later Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, then  Director-General, World Health Organization said in her opening address to the Congress on Perinatal Health in Oslo,2002,  “Poverty has a woman’s face; of the world's 1.3 billion poorest, only 30% are male”. She then remarked, “A young women in Ethiopia, for example, goes into the reproductive phase of her life with a one-in-ten chance that she will die as a result of pregnancy or delivery. That is not only shocking - it is totally unacceptable.” Nothing has changed. I hope this conference will start the change.2

Added to this concern, we are now faced with a new threat to human sustainability. The audit of ill health in Europe found that brain disorders had overtaken all other costs to ill health at €386 Billion for the 25 member states. Moreover, brain disorders are spreading world wide with mental ill-health predicted to be in the top 3 burdens of ill health in 2020 alongside, adverse pregnancy outcomes and heart disease.3 All three conditions are linked nutritionally. I hope that the significance of the importance of fish and sea food to maternal, foetal, child and adult nutrition and health and indeed the health of all, will not only become apparent at this conference but will also pave the way for the arrest of the sinister rise in brain disorders that is becoming one of the leading burdens of ill health world wide. I hope our joint efforts here in Oman will help lead to a better world of intelligence, prosperity and peace.

1 Nutrition and Health 9 (2) 1993. The Health of the Nation Depends on the Mother and Child. Symposium at the Royal Society of Medicine, 1992.
2 Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland (2002) Perinatal Mortality and Morbidity - a Global View opening of the XVIII European Congress of Perinatal Medicine , Oslo.
3 Sobocki A et al. (2005) Cost of Disorders of the Brain in Europe. European Journal of Neurology 12 Supplement 1, 1-27.
Prediction by the Global Forum for Health

Remarks by WHO Representative - Dr Jihan Tawila    

Documentary Film on Oman Fisheries Resources

Opening of the Scientific Poster Session by The Distinguished Guest of Honour and Conference Patron

Chair Professor C. Lowy and Dr Jihan Tawila    

Keynote: Brain-specific lipids from marine and lacustrine or terrestrial food sources: Potential impact on the origin and dominance of modern homo sapiens - C. Leigh Broadhurst, Michael A. Crawford, Walter F. Schmidt. United States Department of Agiculture and Institute of Brain Chemistry, UK

Consumption, Omega 3 fatty acids and cardiovascular disease. The science and the clinical trials - Claudio Galli. Institute of Pharmacology, Milan Italy

Chair: Professor Ewen McLean Co-Chair: Dr Steve Goddard

The Global perspective and sustainability of sea foods. Dr. David James, Department of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, FAO Rome, Italy (presented by M A Crawford in absentia)

Potential for Offshore Fisheries and chemical composition of fish species from the Gulf and Indian Ocean. Professor Bassam Soussi, UNESCO Chair and Director of Center for Excellence in Marine Biotechnology, Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat, Oman.

Environmental health supercourse: Implications for fisheries - Faina Linkov, Izzeldin Alsharief, Ronald LaPorte.

Chair: Dr Faina Linkov  Co-Chair: Dr Al-Khindi

Sickle cell disease and omega 3 fatty acids: Implications for vaso-occlusion and manifestations - Kebreab Ghebremeskel. Institute of Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition, London Metropolitan University, UK

Ecologically sustainable development of fisheries: A vision on the Australian model - Ali Awadh Al Amoudi  address.

Experience in Tunisia with warm water seafood and fish: The extraction of active biomolecules – Dr. Saloua Sadok, Ministry of Fisheries Research Institute, Tunis, Tunisia.

Designing fish for improved human health status - Ewen McLean  Address


Prof Jack Winkler  Co-Chair:  Dr Majeed Al-Ani
A slice of fish for ensuring freedom from preventable brain damage and sustainable elimination of Iodine deficiency (IDD) - Izzeldin Alsharief

Health effects of fish consumption - Halima Al-Hinai

Fish Consumption Patterns and Health Beliefs related to Fish in Bahrain Community - Abdulrahman O. Musaiger and Mohammed J. Al-Rumaidh

Nutritional status and fish consumption in Moroccan population - Mziwira M, El Ayachi M, Rguibi M and Belahsen R  
Marketing Omega-3 products as nutraceuticals - Peter Clough. Efamol, UK

Nutritional status and fish consumption in Moroccan population - Mziwira M, El Ayachi M, Rguibi M and Belahsen R

Fish consumption in Uganda – Dr. Jennifer Anne Mugisha, President of Uganda’s Women Medical Doctors, Kampala, Uganda.

Fish Consumption Patterns and Health Beliefs related to Fish in Bahrain Community - Abdulrahman O. Musaiger and Mohammed J. Al-Rumaidh  

Chair  Bassam Soussi and Gilles Beouf.

Dietary manipulation of fatty acid content and composition in farmed fish - Stephen Goddard, Ahmed Al-Souti, Amanat Ali and Bassam Soussi Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat, Oman.

Improving nutritional and environmental status of fish pond production by adding micro algae - El-Sayed, A.B. and El-Fouly, M.M. Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat, Oman.

Production systems for micro algae and fish feeding - Mohamed M. El-Fouly, M.M. Shaaban. F.E. Abdalla and A.B. El-Sayed Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat, Oman.

Designing fish for improved human health status - Ewen McLean: Address.

The impact of vulnerable fisheries on food security and food safety in fish processing industry: Case study in Pekalongan, Central Java – Indonesia  - Indah Susilowati, Tri Winarni Agustini  and Waridin Waridin  Address

Post-harvest losses of fish in
developing countries - Asman      A Ahmed Address                
Round table discussion on days 1 and 2


School children, maternal nutrition and generating healthy brains - Simon H House, McCarrison Society, London UK          

Maternal nutrition, obesity, diabetes and adverse pregnancy outcome - Clara Lowy, Yoeju Min, St Thomas’s Hospital Medical School and Institute of Brain Chemistry, London UK.

Milk of Sudanese mothers with high carbohydrate traditional diets is low in docosahexaenoic acid - Nyuar KB, Ghebremeskel K. Institute of Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition, London Metropolitan University, UK.

Iodine deficiency disorders in school children living the Red Sea Coast and Nile valley of Sudan and their implications on health and development - H.S. Izzeldin, M. A. M. Belal

Fish oil & the management of hypertriglyceridemia - Umar A Obeid

Role of omega-3 (fish oil) in cancer and heart disease - Jihan F. Ashraf and Khalid Al-Naib

12.30 – 1.00  DISCUSSION

Chair Professor Michael Crawford

Ocean biodiversity as reservoir for food production, agriculture pharmaceuticals and research models - Gilles Boeuf and Thierry Lerond, Gilles Bœuf Marine Biology, Banlys-sur-Mer, and Nutrylis, France.

Policy Options for Fish and Public Health in Oman. Professor Jack Winkler,  Policy Unit, London Metropolitan University. UK

Panel Chairman: HE Dr Hamed bin Said Al-Oufi
Panel Co-Chair: Prof Michael Crawford
Dr Izzedin Alsharief Professor  Bob Lister, Dr Linus U. Opara

Dr Robert Lister :  Summary  and the Muscat Declaration.


HE Dr Hamed bin Said Al-Oufi  Concluding comments and close of the meeting.

The Muscat Declaration


First International Conference on the Economic Importance of Fisheries
and their Impacts on Public Health

Fish and seafood in health

It is well-established that increased consumption of fish and seafood provide benefit in terms of human health.
Appropriate supplementation of diets with fish and seafood reduces the incidence of cardiovascular, mental ill-health, immune and other non-infectious disorders.
The critical importance of maternal and foetal nutrition was recognized as vital for ensuring the health and intellectual well-being of future generations.
The important contribution of fish and seafood to healthy development and function of the foetal brain was acknowledged.


Summary Recommendations

To ensure the security of all future generations, the management of all marine natural resources and all activities surrounding their exploitation must be undertaken in a totally sustainable manner.
The practice of discarding fish and seafood of low commercial value must be curtailed since many of these resources are of high potential nutritional value to humans and livestock alike.
In order to enhance knowledge of Best Management Practices with respect to environmental stewardship and maintaining the nutritional value of fish and seafood harvests, new opportunities for the training and engagement of individuals in fisheries and aquaculture extension must be made available.
These extension programmes must also take account of reducing post-harvest losses and preserving product quality through the effective transfer of knowledge to seafood processing and production sectors as well as to wholesale and retail operations.
The safety and quality of fish and seafood products for human consumption, both for domestic and international markets, must be monitored.
Industry-wide HACCP programmes relating to fish and seafood processing must be implemented and regularly inspected.
We must develop and implement public awareness programmes on the nutrition and health benefits of fish and seafood consumption through extension and outreach.
Particular emphasis should be given to pre-, peri- and post-natal mothers due to the importance of maternal nutrition in maintenance of a healthy pregnancy and in normal foetal development.
In order to inform the population at large, nutrition and health education programmes that highlight the benefits of fish and seafood consumption, must be incorporated into school and university curricula.
Special attention to highlighting the critical bond between nutrition and health education should be given to medical and paramedical students and professionals.
As a component of nutrition and health-focused education programmes, research activities that are directed at maintenance of good health and the prevention of illness must be funded.
Research on existing as well as innovative marine products that enable treatment and or prevention of illness and as nutritional supplements need to be expanded.
Because the composition of cultured fish can be beneficially modified through dietary manipulations to augment levels of essential fatty acids and trace elements, we urge increased research attention and development in this area.
Recognizing that fish and other seafoods express seasonal and species-specific variations in composition, and especially in terms of quantity and profiles of fatty acids, the research community is urged to provide, as components of clinical and research trials, complete information regarding the origin and composition of test materials.