Oceanic Resources As The Future For The 21st Century

Michael A. Crawford                

ABSTRACT: This paper discusses:

1. The pivotal importance of the mothers health and nutrition in securing the health and abilities of her child and hence the future prosperity of the nation.

2. The importance of sea food and fish in health and intelligence from the beginning of life to its end.

These two issues impact on the critical importance of the resources of the oceans. The brain evolved in the sea between 500 and 600 million years ago. Marine lipids were determinants of the evolution of the brain and hence ultimately of Homo sapiens. Today the greatest threat to health is the rise in disorders of the brain. This and many of the non-communicable diseases are due to changes in lifestyle which impacts on nutrition. There is good evidence that fish and seafoods are not only protective but enhance both health and cognition. As the brain develops in the womb maternal nutrition and health, together with the exploitation of the oceans, becomes the first priority of this century.

Two thirds of the planet’s surface is oceanic. The available surface area for agriculture on land is limited by desert, inhospitable mountain regions, ice and rain forest. Much of the available arable land is already under cultivation. Faced with this situation there are 2 to 3 billion who are undernourished or malnourished. The question is can the land produce sufficient nutrition to eliminate malnutrition world wide?

Possibly, if protein was taken as the yardstick for food production, land products might suffice to feed proper body growth. If however one was to take brain growth and the omega 3 docosahexaenoic acid it requires then land production, as it is now designed, is unlikely to suffice. This deficit raises serious questions about the future, especially as brain disorders are now overtaking all other burdens of ill health. In the most recent EU audit of the cost of ill health brain disorders had overtaken all other costs. At 2004 prices the cost for the 25 member states of the European Union was the highest at €386 billion.

The prediction is for continuing rise especially in children and the spread worldwide unless the issue of brain specific nutrients is addressed in the food production system. Solving this problem is of the highest priority. It is most likely to be achieved by exploitation of the marine food system.

Key words: maternal health, nutrition, brain, sea foods, fish, global malnutrition.