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Coastal indigenous communities eat 15 times more seafood than non-indigenous people

The study found people in some communities eat as much as 164 kg of seafood per person every year

A spawning sockeye salmon is seen making its way up the Adams River in Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park near Chase, B.C. Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2011.

Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

A spawning sockeye salmon is seen making its way up the Adams River in Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park near Chase, B.C. Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2011.

Indigenous people living along the world’s coastlines eat 15 times more seafood than non-indigenous people do, according to a new UBC study.

The study was done in collaboration with local researchers around the world, resulting in a database of almost 2,000 communities who consume 2.1 million metric tonnes of seafood per year in total.

That comes out to 74 kg of seafood per person every year, compared to the average 19 kg.

“This global database shows the scale and significance of seafood consumption by Indigenous people,” said lead author Andrés Cisneros-Montemayor, program manager with the Nippon Foundation – UBC Nereus Program.

The study highlights the importance of fisheries when discussing coastal indigenous culture and food security, said Sherry Pictou, former Chief of L’sɨtkuk (Bear River First Nation).

Nippon Foundation – UBC Nereus Program

“Having access to a global database that quantifies fish consumption specifically by coastal Indigenous peoples is a critical contribution to Indigenous struggle.”

Some of the highest rates of seafood consumption came from Africa’s Midwest coast, where indigenous people ate an average of 164 kg per capita, according to the study.

Coastal indigenous people are especially vulnerable to climate change, said co-author Yoshitaka Ota.

“For a lot of these communities, the practice of fishing forms a link to their culture that defines them as a people. It’s not just about eating fish, it’s about maintaining an identity as a distinct culture,” said Ota, the Nippon Foundation – UBC Nereus program director of policy.

“Not only must fish and ecosystems be protected, but also those lives and cultures that depend on the ocean.”

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