The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) recently published The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2018 (SOFIA), which as you may have guessed from the title is a summary of the latest official statistics on fisheries and aquaculture.

The SOFIA reports have been published every two years since 1994 and as with previous editions this year’s is a thorough and important publication. Reliable data about fisheries and aquaculture is vital to those working to make these industries more socially and environmentally responsible, to measure impact and identify important areas for improvement.

The report is an interesting read for anyone involved in fisheries or aquaculture, but if you don’t have time to read it in full we’ve picked out some of the most interesting findings about aquaculture and what we think it might mean for the future of the industry. The FAO have also summarized their report, including the statistics on fisheries, on their website.

80 million tonnes

That was the total global aquaculture production of food fish in 2016. Aquaculture production has grown on average by 5.8% a year since 2001.

47 per cent

This is the proportion of total global fish production from aquaculture. This is up from 26 per cent in 2000. The rapid growth in aquaculture has been the driving force behind the increase in total global fish production, and allowed global fish consumption to increase by an average of 3.2 per cent a year since 1961 – outpacing the rise in population growth, as well as the rise in terrestrial meat consumption.

20 kg per year

Was how much fish was consumed per capita in 2015 – more than double the 9kg per capita in 1961. And the FAO’s projections suggest that consumption will continue to increase – albeit at a slower rate – in the future, especially in areas such as Africa and Latin America, which currently have some of the lowest per capita levels of consumption.

109 million tonnes

Is how much aquaculture production of food fish the FAO projects there will be in 2030 – that would be a growth of 37 per cent on 2016 levels. The FAO’s models also project total global food fish production of 201 million tonnes in 2030. That would mean aquaculture would be generating much of the total growth in global fish production, and would represent over half of the total in 2030.

Challenges for the future

The FAO has also highlighted a number of issues facing global fisheries and aquaculture. For example, the accuracy of workforce data, particularly of gender breakdowns, varies greatly between countries. This makes it harder to monitor important social impacts involving the workforce, and means that women’s contribution to these industries is often underestimated.
Other issues include the ongoing impacts of climate change, the sustainability of some fish stocks, and the need to maintain biodiversity. The ASC recently represented the aquaculture industry at the FAO’s Multi-Stakeholder dialogues on biodiversity across agriculture.

This latest report from the FAO makes clear the significant, and growing, contribution of aquaculture towards the world’s supply of seafood. With a rapidly rising global population, this growing production will become more and more vital, but it will also increase the social and environmental impacts of aquaculture – which is where the ASC’s standards can help. These wide-ranging issues will require collaborative work across countries and organisations, but the first step is to recognise the importance of responsibly meeting the world’s growing demand for seafood.

Published on
Monday, 06 August 2018
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