Agricultural development is essential for achieving UN 2030 Agenda goals, including poverty reduction, food security, education, and climate resilience. To meet the growing demand for food, the agri-food industry is expanding and intensifying its production, raising the risks of huge negative environmental impacts on the ocean and its biodiversity.
Do you know how the agricultural industry can affect marine ecosystems?
Here are some interesting insights revealed in the review:
-Food waste and transportation are primary contributors to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in agriculture, collectively responsible for 25% of total GHG emissions in the atmosphere, contributing to ocean warming.
-The agriculture industry's heavy use of fertilisers leads to eutrophication in freshwater and marine systems, causing harmful algal blooms that damage aquatic ecosystems.
-Pesticides used in agriculture can contaminate marine ecosystems through runoff and deposition, affecting water quality and the food chain.
-Plastic is the primary material for packaging and retailing agricultural products, 36% of the overall plastics is made for food and beverage containers. If mismanaged, it may eventually enter the ocean through leachates.
However, thanks to the technological innovations and implementation of the new management practices, there are potential solutions to mitigate the environmental impacts of the agriculture and food industry. Including:
-Shift to less GHG-intensive food production methods, nutrient management and larger use of renewable energy and biofuels to reduce GHG emissions.
-Transition towards ecosystem-based management with greater plant diversity, tree-planting and buffer zones near water streams to decrease eutrophication.
-Implementation of innovative pest management programs, crop rotation systems and transition to organic farming to minimise the impact of contaminants.