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More than 580 aquatic species used for global food production from aquaculture!

Farming giant clams in Samoa
More than 580 aquatic species are used for global food production from aquaculture, including these Humpback grouper fingerlings from Indonesia.

Preliminary results of an FAO global assessment of farmed aquatic species are reviewed by member countries in Rome

The FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department and the FAO Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture have been working closely with national focal points of member countries around the world to produce the first draft assessment of the State of the Word’s Aquatic Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.

This report is a major step forward in producing a comprehensive global assessment of how countries around the world are using, farming and conserving aquatic animals (fish, invertebrates, aquatic plants and aquatic microorganisms) and their wild relatives for food and agriculture.

The draft report contains data on farmed aquatic species and their wild relatives from 47 FAO members, many of which are major aquaculture producing countries of the world.

It will eventually cover many more of the 135 aquaculture-producing nations of the world.

An International Technical Working Group comprising high-level technical experts on aquatic genetic resources was convened by FAO at its headquarters 20-22 June to review the draft findings of the report and provide recommendations on how to improve the assessment approach, which has been strongly country-driven, and validate the analysis and conclusions.

Matthias Halwart, Secretary of the Working Group emphasized “The global number of farmed aquatic species is extremely diverse, with a total of about 580 food species and/or species groups farmed around the world being reported to FAO. They are grown in a range of systems, extensive to intensive, across all types of aquatic environments in every inhabited continent of the world”.

“We are living on a Blue Planet, and it is excellent and timely that the global community now focuses its attention on Aquatic Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. FAO is pleased and committed to support its members towards their conservation and sustainable management for present and future generations,” he added.

While the majority of aquaculture production is destined for direct human consumption, some by-products may be used for non-food purposes and a few farmed-types are expressly produced for processing for industrial purposes.

Holding a farmed redtail catfish, ‘Pirarara’ in Brazil, in the Granja do Ipe, Brasilia, Distrito Federal.

The culture of ornamental animals and plants for non-food purposes is also using a wide range of species.

The group of experts also considered the important issue of access and benefit-sharing of farmed aquatic genetic resources and their wild relatives that are relevant to food and agriculture production. 

The group’s findings will advise the FAO Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture and provide guidance regarding the programme of work related to aquatic genetic resources.

Some key findings of the  report so far: 

  • Aquaculture production is increasing in most countries
    A tremendous amount of aquatic  genetic  resources are used in aquaculture and fisheries
  • Aquaculture production systems are highly diversified in term of species and methods. Numerous species have potential for use in aquaculture either through domestication or sourcing material from wild populations.
  • Aquaculture and fisheries are closely linked production systems. Wild relatives of farmed aquatic species play important roles in both aquaculture and capture fisheries.
  • Non-native species have an important role to play in aquaculture and fisheries development.
  • Biotechnology, and specifically genetic technologies, are advancing rapidly allowing among others for the better identification and characterization of aquatic genetic resources. Selective breeding is the most widely used technology to improve Aquaculture Genetic Resources  for Food and Agriculture and represents a good long-term strategy for breed improvement and domestication.

 

 

Seaweed farming in Kiribati.
Tilapia is a lower value finfish that is frequently introduced into aquaculture projects, such as the red tilapia farmed in this aquaculture project in inland Haiti.
Women vendors in Vientiane, Laos, selling small fish from rice fields and bigger fish from the Mekong alongside fruits and vegetables.

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