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Historical perspective

After the Second World War, fisheries developed rapidly in all fishing areas, both inland and marine. The world production increased from 19.6 million tonnes (mt) in 1948 to 67 mt in 1970 and steadily increased to 103.5 mt in 1990. The latest statistics for 1997 revealed that the world production from both capture and aquaculture reached the peak of 131 mt (Table 4).

For Asia and the Pacific, total production from inland waters (including aquaculture) increased from one million tonnes in 1950 to 21.2 mt in 1997. In the marine fishing areas (Figure 1), the Northwest Pacific (FAO Fishing Area 61) has contributed the largest production since 1950, followed by the Western Central Pacific (Area 71). In 1997, these two areas provided 84 percent of total marine production in the region. The Indian Ocean (Areas 51 and 57) contributed the other 14.4 percent and the rest came from the Eastern Central Pacific (Area 77) and the Southwest Pacific (Area 81).

The above figures indicate the important contribution of fisheries and aquaculture in the region. However, not all areas or countries developed or contributed equally in terms of fishery production. In Asia, for example, the spectacular increase in production was mainly due to the development and expansion of the Chinese fisheries and aquaculture in the 1980s (Figure 2). Excluding China, fishery production by all other Asian states seemed to level off since 1990 (Figure 3). Some countries, such as Japan and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), have shown significant decreases due to various reasons. In the Oceania, the increasing trends of production during the 1980s were largely due to Australia and New Zealand (Figure 4). Fish production of the small island developing states slowly increased although some already indicated a decline in the last decade (Table 5).

The increased production of China also resulted in a steady increase in per caput supply (Figure 5) while those in Asia remained at level of about 14.5 kg/year due to reduction and exports (Figure 6). Similar pattern was also observed in the South Pacific. As a result, the contribution of fish proteins to total proteins consumed remained level while vegetable proteins showed a positive trend in the recent years (Figure 7).

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