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Aquaculture

Fish harvesting

Aquaculture is the farming of aquatic organisms in both coastal and inland areas involving interventions in the rearing process to enhance production.

It is probably the fastest growing food-producing sector and now accounts for nearly 50 percent of the world's fish that is used for food.

FAO's role in aquaculture

Aquaculture development

About 567 aquatic species are currently farmed all over the world, representing a wealth of genetic diversity both within and among species.

Aquaculture is practiced by both some of the poorest farmers in developing countries and by multinational companies.

Eating fish is part of the cultural tradition of many people and in terms of health benefits, it has an excellent nutritional profile. It is a good source of protein, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals and essential micronutrients.

Aquatic plants such as seaweed are also an important resource for aquaculture as they provide nutrition, livelihood and other important industrial uses.

Eighty percent of current aquaculture production is derived from animals low in the food chain such as herbivorous, omnivorous fish and mollusks.

Based on its dynamic performance over the last 30 years, and with fairly stable catches from capture fisheries, it is likely that the future growth of the fisheries sector will come mainly from aquaculture.

A sustainable aquaculture strategy needs:

  • a recognition of the fact that farmers earn a fair reward from farming
  • to ensure that benefits and costs are shared equitably
  • to promote wealth and job creation
  • to make sure that enough food is accessible to all
  • to manage the environment for the benefit of future generations
  • to ensure that aquaculture development is orderly, with both authorities and industry well organized

The ultimate aspiration is for aquaculture to develop its full potential so that:

  • communities prosper and people are healthier
  • there are more opportunities for improved livelihoods, with an increased income and better nutrition
  • farmers and women are empowered

Aquaculture and FAO 

FAO recognizes the fast-growing contribution aquaculture is making to food security, providing technical assistance through the implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, which:

  • promotes sustainable aquaculture development, especially in developing countries, through better environmental performance of the sector, through health management and biosecurity
  • provides regular analysis and reporting of aquaculture development status and trends at global and regional levels, sharing knowledge and information
  • develops and implements efficient policies and legal frameworks which promote sustainable and equitable aquaculture development with improved socio-economic benefits

The Sub-Committee of Aquaculture provides a forum for consultation and discussion on aquaculture.

It also advises the Committee on Fisheries (COFI) on technical and policy matters related to aquaculture and the work to be performed by the Organization.

FAO provides a wealth of information and tools on aquaculture development, issues and opportunities worldwide.