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Characterizing pathways of seafood access in small island developing states.

  • Seto, Katherine L
  • Friedman, Whitney R
  • Eurich, Jacob G
  • Gephart, Jessica A
  • Zamborain-Mason, Jessica
  • Sharp, Michael
  • Aram, Erietera
  • Tekaieti, Aritita
  • Tekiau, Aranteiti
  • Golden, Christopher D
Publication Date
Feb 13, 2024
eScholarship - University of California
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Ensuring healthy and sustainable food systems in increasing social, economic, and ecological change is a key global priority to protect human and environmental health. Seafood is an essential component of these food systems and a critical source of nutrients, especially in coastal communities. However, despite rapid transformations in aquatic food systems, and our urgent need to understand them, there is a dearth of data connecting harvested food production to actualized food consumption. Many analyses suggest institutional, legal, or technological innovations to improve food systems, but few have analyzed the pathways through which people already gain access to nutritious food. Here, using a random forest model and cluster analysis of a nationally representative data set from Kiribati, we operationalize access theory to trace the flows of consumptive benefit in a fisheries-based food system. We demonstrate that the market access mechanism is the key mechanism mediating seafood access in Kiribati, but importantly, the highest seafood consumption households showed lower market access, pointing to the importance of non-market acquisition (e.g., home production and gifting). We reveal six distinct household strategies that employ different sets of access mechanisms to ensure high levels of local seafood consumption in different contexts. We demonstrate the impacts of these strategies on the composition of household seafoods consumed, stressing the need to support these existing successful strategies. Finally, we point to key policy and management insights (e.g., improved infrastructure, shifts in species management) that may be more effective in reinforcing these existing pathways than commonly proposed food system interventions.

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