Increasing focus on the value of omega-3 is likely to result in an increase of the popularity of pelagic fish. (Photo: omega3summit.org/FIS)
Insufficient amount of Omega-3 to meet demand: researchers
Wednesday, March 02, 2011, 22:20 (GMT + 9)
At a conference that starts in Belgium this week, several researchers will point out that there is not enough Omega-3 available to meet demand.
However, the lack of supply is likely to create golden opportunities for the Norwegian pelagic industry as the value of pelagic fish is set to increase.
At the Global Summit on Nutrition, Health and Human Behaviour, which will be held on 3 and 4 March in Bruges, Belgium, industry members will focus on how the world's population must meet its need for Omega-3 fatty acids.
According to Professor of Nutrition Policy, Dr. Jack Winkler, of the London Metropolitan University, his introduction will focus on the growing challenge which is arrising from the need to secure and regulate the availability of Omega-3 in large enough quantities to meet the needs of the world's population.
As it is expected that by the year 2050, there will be 9 billion people on earth.
"We need to meet the requirements surrounding not just fish consumption, but derivatives as well," Winkler will explain in his introduction.
According to Winkler, globally, the vast majority of people have a low intake of Omega-3, which is the reality of a world that has not yet realized the importance of these fatty acids.
He believes that this is due to the public normally being too focused on their lack of iodine, iron, vitamin A and, increasingly, zinc. Which has resulted on too little focus on carbohydrates, fat and protein, and even less, on Omega-3.
The problem is, according to the professor, that heart and blood vessel disorders as well as mental deficiencies, are complex, and the role of a lack of Omega-3 is not clear enough for people, and is therefore not taken seriously.
"There's a big task ahead of us. We are still at the stage that we must convince the world about the positive effects which Omega-3 has. But on the other hand, we must look at how we get enough Omega-3."
At the conference, researchers will also point out that it is not necessarily a solution to encourage people to eat more fish, as most stocks are overfished, and such a focus may intensify these problems.
According to Winkler, that is in fact not the answer, as that is a thoughtless approach to issues surrounding sustainability rather than a clinical approach.
Norway is the world's largest producer of fish for human consumption with high Omega-3 content.
Mackerel is alleged to be the species with the highest content of fatty acids, but both herring and sardines also have a high content of Omega-3. The same goes for farmed salmon and trout. But the question there will be whether the intake of Omega-3 in the feed should be higher or lower than the Omega-3 content of the actual salmon.
Omega-3 is also sold in capsules which does not increase the amount of available Omega-3. The sources are the same fish that can be used either to feed other fish or humans.
Increasing the focus on the value of Omega-3 in the future can increase the popularity of pelagic fish as human food, and consequently, the earnings of fishermen.
By Peter Engo/Kystmagasinet