Despite the connections between terrestrial and marine/freshwater livelihood strategies that we see in coastal regions across the world, the contribution of wild fisheries and fish farming is seldom considered in analyses of the global food system and is consequently underrepresented in major food security and nutrition policy initiatives. Understanding the degree to which farmers also consume fish, and how fishers also grow crops, would help to inform more resilient food security interventions.
By compiling a dataset for 123,730 households across 6781 sampling clusters in 12 highly food-insecure countries, we find that between 10 and 45% of the population relies on fish for a core part of their diet. In four of our sample countries, fish-reliant households are poorer than their counterparts. Five countries show the opposite result, with fish-reliant households having higher household asset wealth. We also find that in all but two countries, fish-reliant households depend on land for farming just as much as do households not reliant on fish.
These results highlight the need for food security interventions that combine terrestrial and marine/freshwater programming if we are going to be successful in building a more resilient food system for the world’s most vulnerable people.