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Highlights from the FAO database on aquaculture production statistics - Alan Lowther[11]

The FAO Fisheries database of statistics on aquaculture production and values has been updated to include data for 2003. Total aquaculture production of aquatic animals (i.e., excluding aquatic plants) for 2003 was reported to be 42.3 million tonnes[12] with a farm-gate value of US$ 61.0 billion. With the inclusion of aquatic plants, the production increases to 54.8 million tonnes with a value of US$ 67.3 billion. Growth in global aquaculture remains strong as these figures represent an increase in production of 6.2 percent from the total aquaculture production reported for 2002, and a 5.8 percent increase when only aquatic animals are considered. Considering the ten-year period from 1993-2003, total aquaculture production shows an average annual increase of 9.4 percent.

For aquaculture of aquatic animals, China continues to far exceed the production of other nations accounting for over two-thirds of the global total. The top ten producing countries for 2003 are in listed in Table 1. These countries account for 88.0 percent of the total global production. The top seven producing nations are all from Asia and, in 2003, the countries of Asia were responsible for 88.8 percent of production, followed by Europe (5.2 percent), South America (2.4 percent), North America (2.1 percent), Africa (1.2 percent) and Oceania (0.3 percent).

The species with the greatest production volume was the Pacific cupped oyster (Crassostrea gigas) with 4.4 million tonnes, followed by three species of carps - silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix), grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idellus) and common carp (Cyprinus carpio). In terms of ISSCAAP (International Standard Statistical Classification of Aquatic Animals and Plants; groups of species, by far the most production is in the group consisting of carps and other cyprinids. In addition to the three carps already mentioned, the bighead carp (Hypophthalmichthys nobilis) and the Crucian carp (Carassius carassius) also had production over 1.5 million tonnes in 2003. The top ten ISSCAAP species groups in terms of production are listed in Table 2. If aquatic plants are included, the species with the highest production is Japanese kelp (Laminaria japonica) with a production of 4.6 million tonnes.

For 2003, carps were the species group with the highest reported value - US$ 15.4 billion. They were followed by shrimp and prawns (US$ 9.3 billion), miscellaneous freshwater fishes (US$ 5.6 billion), salmons and trouts (US$ 5.6 billion), clams and cockles (US$ 4.3 billion) and oysters (US$ 3.8 billion). The highest reported value for a single species was US$ 3.8 billion for the whiteleg shrimp (Penaeus vannamei), followed by Pacific cupped oyster, giant tiger prawn (Penaeus monodon) and Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar).

While production from capture fisheries has been relatively constant over the last twenty years, the growth of aquaculture has resulted in aquaculture being responsible for an everincreasing share of global fisheries production. This share has increased from 3.9 percent in 1970 to 31.9 percent in 2003 (Fig. 1) and likely will continue to increase for the near future. Naturally, as aquaculture production increases, a larger proportion of the fishery food supply will come from aquaculture. This is particularly striking in China where more than three-quarters of the fish food supply comes from aquaculture. The share of the fishery food supply from aquaculture for the rest of the world is less (20 percent in 2003), but is also increasing (Fig. 2). Food supply is calculated by subtracting the part of the catch that is used for meal, oils and other non-food uses. Furthermore, it is assumed that all aquaculture production is for human consumption.

Table 1: Top ten countries in aquaculture production of aquatic animals in 2003


Production (tonnes)

Percent of world total


28 892 005



2 215 590



996 659


Viet Nam

937 502



859 656



856 956



772 970



582 016



563 435



544 329


Rest of world

5 083 023



42 304 141


Note: Includes fish, crustaceans, molluscs and amphibians

Figure 1. Contribution of aquaculture to global fisheries production

Table 2: Top ten ISSCAAP species groups for aquaculture production of aquatic animals (not including aquatic plants) for 2003

Species group


Production % of world total

(million US$)

Carps, barbels and other cyprinids

17 215 123


15 351


4 496 659


3 794

Miscellaneous freshwater fi shes

4 250 076


5 636

Clams, cockles, arkshells

3 788 296


4 276

Salmons, trouts, smelts

1 828 760


5 602

Shrimps, prawns

1 804 932


9 323

Tilapias and other cichlids

1 677 751


2 036


1 589 464



Miscellaneous marine molluscs

1 232 293



Scallops, pectens

1 178 468


1 693

Other species

3 242 319


11 649


42 304 141


60 984

Figure 2. Relative contribution of aquaculture and capture fisheries to food fish consumption

The entire aquaculture database can be downloaded from the FAO Fisheries website at FISHSTAT Plus is a powerful and easy-to-use software package that allows the user to query the databases for aquaculture production and values, as well as the other FAO Fisheries Statistics databases, including global capture fishery data, fishery commodities data, and regional databases. In addition, the databases can be queried online using FIGIS (Fisheries Global Information System) at the FAO Fisheries website: For more analysis of the given statistics, the reader may wish to examine the latest version of the State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture, 2004, published by FAO and available online at

FAO Expert Workshop for the Preparation of Technical Guidelines on Health Management for Responsible Movement of Live Aquatic Organisms Colombo, Sri Lanka, 1st to 4th November 2005 (continued from page 10).

The working documents presented at the Expert Workshop will form the basis for suggestions and recommendations that will be compiled into two documents:

  • FAO Technical Guidelines for Responsible Fisheries: Health Management for Responsible Movement of Live Aquatic Organisms and

  • FAO Fisheries Technical Paper - Compliance to FAO Technical Guidelines for Responsible Fisheries: Health Management for Responsible Movement of Live Aquatic Organisms.

A Technical Secretariat comprising Rohana Subasinghe and Melba Reantaso (FAO-FIRI), Barry Hill (OIE-Aquatic Animal Health Standards Committee), Sharon McGladdery (Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans), will be responsible for technical coordination.

This workshop will immediately follow the FHS/AFS Sixth Symposium on Diseases in Asian Aquaculture (DAA VI) ( to be held in Colombo from 25-28 October 2005.

[11] Alan Lowther
Fishery Information, Data and Statistics Unit
FAO Fisheries Department, Rome e - mail:
[12] All production quantities in this article are in live weight equivalent units

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