Fish farming, also known as aquaculture, has overtaken beef production, says Andy Sharpless, Oceana’s CEO and co-author of The Perfect Protein.

Sharpless says that eating and harvesting small fish such as sardines and herring could be better for the environment, as they have high reproductive rates. It can also allow large fish predators like tuna to recover from its 90% decline.

Two-thirds of the global fish population is caught by the European Union and nine other countries, so if these fisheries are managed well, sustainable eating is possible. In 2012, 66 million tons of farmed fish were produced, compared to 63 million tons of beef. For this year, the number of farmed fish consumed could also surpass the consumption of fish caught in the wild.

Farming fish and shellfish could protect marine biodiversity and feed the world’s increasing population. Aquaculture produces enough edible protein, while also assisting in ocean preservation. Overall, farmed fish have overtaken beef because they’re low on the food chain and the process for fish farming is more efficient than beef production.