UN Member States adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which also sets aims for the contribution and conduct of fisheries and aquaculture towards food security and nutrition in the use of natural resources so as to ensure sustainable development in economic, social and environmental terms.
Growth in Fish Production
Growth in the global supply of fish for human consumption has outpaced population growth in the past five decades, increasing at an average annual rate of 3.2 percent in the period 1961– 2013, double that of population growth, resulting in increasing average per capita availability.
World per capita apparent fish consumption increased from an average of 9.9 kg in the 1960s to 14.4 kg in the 1990s and 19.7 kg in 2013.
In addition to the increase in production, other factors that have contributed to rising consumption include reductions in wastage, better utilization, improved distribution channels, and growing demand linked to population growth, rising incomes and urbanization.
International trade has also played an important role in providing wider choices to consumers.
This significant growth in fish consumption has enhanced people’s diets around the world through diversified and nutritious food. In 2013, fish accounted for about 17 percent of the global population’s intake of animal protein and 6.7 percent of all protein consumed. Moreover, fish provided more than 3.1 billion people with almost 20 percent of their average per capita intake of animal protein.
Fish Production Regions:
The Northwest Pacific remained the most productive area for capture fisheries, followed by the Western Central Pacific, the Northeast Atlantic and the Eastern Indian Ocean. With the exception of the Northeast Atlantic, these areas have shown increases in catches compared with the average for the decade 2003–2012.
The situation in the Mediterranean and Black Sea is alarming, as catches have dropped by one-third since 2007, mainly attributable to reduced landings of small pelagics such as anchovy and sardine but with most species groups also affected.
Growth in Aquaculture:
Production of aquatic animals from aquaculture in 2014 amounted to 73.8 million tonnes, with an estimated first-sale value of US $160.2 billion.
This total comprised 49.8 million tonnes of finfish, 16.1 million tonnes of molluscs, 6.9 million tonnes of crustaceans and 7.3 million tonnes of other aquatic animals including amphibians.
China accounted for 45.5 million tonnes in 2014, or more than 60 percent of global fish production from aquaculture. Other major producers were India, Viet Nam, Bangladesh and Egypt.
In addition, 27.3 million tonnes of aquatic plants were cultured. Aquatic plant farming, overwhelmingly of seaweeds, has been growing rapidly and is now practised in about 50 countries. Importantly in terms of food security and the environment, about half of the world’s aquaculture production of animals and plants came from non-fed species. These species include silver and bighead carps, filter-feeding animal species (e.g. bivalve molluscs) and seaweeds. However, growth in production has been faster for fed species than for non-fed species.
An estimated 56.6 million people were engage in the primary sector of capture fisheries and aquaculture in 2014, of whom 36 percent were engaged full time, 23 percent part time, and the remainder were either occasional fishers or of unspecified status.
Following a long upward trend, numbers have remained relatively stable since 2010, while the proportion of these workers engaged in aquaculture increased from 17 percent in 1990 to 33 percent in 2014.
In 2014, 84 percent of the global population engaged in the fisheries and aquaculture sector was in Asia, followed by Africa (10 percent), and Latin America and the Caribbean (4 percent). Of the 18 million people engaged in fish farming, 94 percent were in Asia. Women accounted for 19 percent of all people directly engaged in the primary sector in 2014, but when the secondary sector (e.g. processing, trading) is included women make up about half of the workforce.
The state of the world’s marine fish stocks has not improved overall, despite notable progress in some areas. Based on FAO’s analysis of assessed commercial fish stocks, the share of fish stocks within biologically sustainable levels decreased from 90 percent in 1974 to 68.6 percent in 2013. Thus, 31.4 percent of fish stocks were estimated as fished at a biologically unsustainable level and therefore overfished.
International trade plays a major role in the fisheries and aquaculture sector as an employment creator, food supplier, income generator, and contributor to economic growth and development, as well as to food and nutrition security. Fish and fishery products represent one of the most-traded segments of the world food sector, with about 78 percent of seafood products estimated to be exposed to international trade competition.
China is the main fish producer and largest exporter of fish and fishery products. It is also a major importer due to outsourcing of processing from other countries as well as growing domestic consumption of species not produced locally.
However, in 2015, after years of sustained increases, its fishery trade experienced a slowdown with a reduction in its processing sector. Norway, the second major exporter, posted record export values in 2015.
In 2014, Viet Nam became the third major exporter, overtaking Thailand, which has experienced a substantial decline in exports since 2013, mainly linked to reduced shrimp production due to disease problems.
In 2014 and 2015, the European Union (EU) was by far the largest single market for fish imports, followed by the United States of America and Japan