A new study out of the University of British Columbia could change the way policies regarding fisheries and Indigenous human rights are considered.

The study found coastal Indigenous people eat on average 15 times more seafood per person than non-Indigenous communities within the same country.

Lead researcher Andrés Cisneros-Montemayor says these findings show the scale and significance of seafood consumption by Indigenous people.

Local fish on sale in Papua New Guinea

Local fish on sale at a market in Kavieng, Papua New Guinea. (Colette Wabnitz)

The unprecedented global-scale study estimates that coastal Indigenous people around the world consume 74 kilograms of seafood per capita, compared to the global average of 19 kilograms.

"This global database shows the scale and significance of seafood consumption by Indigenous people," said Cisneros-Montemayor.

"For Indigenous people who are not recognized at the state level, this type of resource helps quantify the resources they depend on."

Global estimate of Indigenous seafood consumption UBC

A UBC study examined the seafood eating habits of 1900 communities and revealed that consumption is much higher among Indigenous people compared to non-indigenous. (UBC)

The study drew from a database of more than 1,900 communities.

Those communities consume 2.1-million metric tonnes of seafood every year.

The communities studied include recognized Indigenous groups, self-identified minority groups, and small island developing states.

These groups all share similar histories of marginalization and deep social and cultural connections to marine environments.

It highlights the reliance of Indigenous communities on marine resources and their increasing vulnerability to climate and ecosystem changes — prompting the need to consider their cultural identity when discussing marine wildlife policies. 

Gooseneck harvester

Gooseneck harvester braves rising tide and pounding waves in Clayoquot Sound to get the delicacy, enjoyed by generations of First Nations long before high-end chefs discovered its flavour. (Chris Corday/CBC)