The 'seafood gap' in the food-water nexus literature-issues surrounding freshwater use in seafood production chains

Jessica A. Gephart*, Max Troell, Patrik J.G. Henriksson, Malcolm C.M. Beveridge, Marc Verdegem, Marc Metian, Lara D. Mateos, Lisa Deutsch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)


Freshwater use for food production is projected to increase substantially in the coming decades with population growth, changing demographics, and shifting diets. Ensuring joint food-water security has prompted efforts to quantify freshwater use for different food products and production methods. However, few analyses quantify freshwater use for seafood production, and those that do use inconsistent water accounting. This inhibits water use comparisons among seafood products or between seafood and agricultural/livestock products. This 'seafood gap' in the food-water nexus literature will become increasingly problematic as seafood consumption is growing globally and aquaculture is one of the fastest growing animal food sectors in the world. Therefore, the present study 1) reviews freshwater use concepts as they relate to seafood production; 2) provides three cases to highlight the particular water use concerns for aquaculture, and; 3) outlines future directions to integrate seafood into the broader food-water nexus discussion. By revisiting water use concepts through a focus on seafood production systems, we highlight the key water use processes that should be considered for seafood production and offer a fresh perspective on the analysis of freshwater use in food systems more broadly.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)505-514
JournalAdvances in Water Resources
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017


  • Aquaculture
  • Fisheries
  • Food-water nexus
  • Freshwater use assessment
  • Impact assessment methodology
  • Water footprint


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