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PART 1
WORLD REVIEW OF FISHERIES
AND AQUACULTURE

Fisheries resources: trends in production, utilization and trade

OVERVIEW

Capture fisheries and aquaculture supplied the world with about 106 million tonnes of food fish in 2004, providing an apparent per capita supply of 16.6 kg (live weight equivalent), which is the highest on record (table 1 and Figure 1). Of this total, aquaculture accounted for 43 percent. Outside China, per capita supply has shown a modest growth rate of about 0.4 percent per year since 1992 (following a decline from 1987), as growth in supply from aquaculture more than offset the effects of static capture fishery production and a rising population (table 2 and Figure 2). In 2004, per capita food fish supply was estimated at 13.5 kg if data for China are excluded. Overall, fish provided more than 2.6 billion people with at least 20 percent of their average per capita animal protein intake. the share of fish proteins in total world animal protein supplies grew from 14.9 percent in 1992 to a peak of 16.0 percent in 1996, declining to about 15.5 percent in 2003. Notwithstanding the relatively low fish consumption by weight in low-income food-deficit countries (LIFDCs) of 14.1 kg per capita in 2003, the contribution of fish to total animal protein intake was significant – at about 20 percent – and is probably higher than indicated by official statistics in view of the unrecorded contribution of subsistence fisheries.

Preliminary estimates for 2005 based on reporting by some major fishing countries indicate that total world fishery production reached almost 142 million tonnes, representing an increase of over 1 million tonnes compared with 2004 and a record high production. Although the total amount of fish available for human consumption is estimated to have increased to 107 million tonnes, the global per capita supply remained at about the same level as in 2004 because of population growth. there was a decrease in the contribution of capture fisheries to human consumption, but this was offset by an increase in the aquaculture contribution.

Table 1
World fisheries and aquaculture production and utilization

 

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

20051

(Million tonnes)

PRODUCTION 

INLAND 

Capture

8.8

8.9

8.8

9.0

9.2

9.6

Aquaculture

21.2

22.5

23.9

25.4

27.2

28.9

Total inland

30.0

31.4

32.7

34.4

36.4

38.5

MARINE 

Capture

86.8

84.2

84.5

81.5

85.8

84.2

Aquaculture

14.3

15.4

16.5

17.3

18.3

18.9

Total marine

101.1

99.6

101.0

98.8

104.1

103.1

TOTAL CAPTURE

95.6

93.1

93.3

90.5

95.0

93.8

TOTAL AQUACULTURE

35.5

37.9

40.4

42.7

45.5

47.8

TOTAL WORLD FISHERIES

131.1

131.0

133.7

133.2

140.5

141.6

UTILIZATION 

Human consumption

96.9

99.7

100.2

102.7

105.6

107.2

Non-food uses

34.2

31.3

33.5

30.5

34.8

34.4

Population (billions)

6.1

6.1

6.2

6.3

6.4

6.5

Per capita food fish supply (kg)

16.0

16.2

16.1

16.3

16.6

16.6

Note: Excluding aquatic plants.
1
Preliminary estimate.

China remains by far the largest producer, with reported fisheries production of 47.5 million tonnes in 2004 (16.9 and 30.6 million tonnes from capture fisheries and aquaculture, respectively), providing an estimated domestic food supply of 28.4 kg per capita as well as production for export and non-food purposes. However, there are continued indications that capture fisheries and aquaculture production statistics for China may be too high, as indicated in previous issues of The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture,1 and that this problem has existed since the early 1990s. Because of the importance of China and the uncertainty about its production statistics, as in previous issues of this report, China is generally discussed separately from the rest of the world.

THE STATE OF WORLD FISHERIES AND AQUACULTURE 2006

Table 2
World fisheries and aquaculture production and utilization, excluding China

 

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

20051

(million tonnes) 

PRODUCTION 

INLAND

           

Capture

6.6

6.7

6.5

6.6

6.8

7.0

Aquaculture

6.0

6.5

7.0

7.6

8.3

8.8

Total inland

12.6

13.3

13.5

14.2

15.1

15.8

MARINE 

Capture

72.0

69.8

70.2

67.2

71.3

69.7

Aquaculture

4.9

5.3

5.6

6.1

6.6

6.6

Total marine

76.9

75.2

75.8

73.3

77.9

76.3

TOTAL CAPTURE

78.6

76.6

76.7

73.8

78.1

76.7

TOTAL AQUACULTURE

10.9

11.9

12.6

13.8

14.9

15.4

TOTAL FISHERIES

89.5

88.4

89.3

87.5

93.0

92.1

UTILIZATION

Human consumption

63.9

65.7

65.7

67.5

68.9

69.0

Non-food uses

25.7

22.7

23.7

20.1

24.0

23.1

Population (billions)

4.8

4.9

5.0

5.0

5.1

5.1

Per capita food fish supply (kg)

13.3

13.4

13.3

13.4

13.5

13.4

Note: Excluding aquatic plants.
1
Preliminary estimate.

Global capture fisheries production reached 95 million tonnes in 2004, with an estimated first-sale value of uS$84.9 billion. China, Peru and the united States of America remained the top producing countries. World capture fisheries production has been relatively stable in the past decade with the exception of marked fluctuations driven by catches of Peruvian anchoveta - a species extremely susceptible to oceanographic conditions determined by the El Niño Southern Oscillation - in the Southeast Pacific (Figure 3). Fluctuations in other species and regions tend to compensate for each other to a large extent so that total marine catches, which accounted for 85.8 million tonnes in 2004, do not show such significant variations. Production in the Eastern Indian Ocean and Western Central Pacific continued their long-term increasing trends, and in the highly regulated Northwest Atlantic and Northwest Pacific areas, recent increases were observed following troughs in production. In contrast, catches in two other areas decreased recently: for the first time since 1991, catches from the Northeast Atlantic totalled fewer than 10 million tonnes; in the Southwest Atlantic, a sharp drop in catches of Argentine shortfin squid brought total catches down to their lowest level since 1984. the Mediterranean and Black Sea remained the most stable marine area in terms of capture production. Catches from inland waters, about 90 percent of which occur in Africa and Asia, have shown a slowly but steadily increasing trend since 1950, owing in part to stock enhancement practices, and reached a record 9.2 million tonnes in 2004.

Aquaculture continues to grow more rapidly than all other animal food-producing sectors, with an average annual growth rate for the world of 8.8 percent per year since 1970, compared with only 1.2 percent for capture fisheries and 2.8 percent for terrestrial farmed meat production systems. However, there are signs that the rate of growth for global aquaculture may have peaked, although high growth rates may continue for some regions and species. Aquaculture production in 2004 was reported to be 45.5 million tonnes (table 1) with a value of uS$63.3 billion or, if aquatic plants are included, 59.4 million tonnes with a value of uS$70.3 billion. Of the world total, China is reported to have accounted for nearly 70 percent of the quantity and over half the global value of aquaculture production. All regions showed increases in production from 2002 to 2004, led by the Near East and North Africa region and Latin America and the Caribbean, with about 14 and 10 percent average annual growth, respectively. Freshwater culture continued to dominate, followed by mariculture and brackish-water culture. Carps accounted for 40 percent of all production of fish, crustaceans and molluscs. the period 2000-04 saw strong growth in production of crustaceans, in particular, and of marine fish. In the same period, production in developing countries other than China increased at an annual rate of 11 percent, compared with 5 percent for China and about 2 percent for the developed countries. With the exception of marine shrimp, the bulk of aquaculture production within developing countries in 2004 comprised omnivorous/herbivorous fish or filter-feeding species. In contrast, carnivorous species accounted for approximately three-quarters of finfish culture production in developed countries.

THE STATE OF WORLD FISHERIES AND AQUACULTURE 2006

THE STATE OF WORLD FISHERIES AND AQUACULTURE 2006

During the past three decades, the number of fishers and aquaculturists has grown faster than the world’s population, and faster than employment in traditional agriculture. In 2004, an estimated 41 million people worked as fishers and fish farmers, the great majority of these in developing countries, principally in Asia. Significant increases in the most recent decades, particularly in Asia, are a result of the strong expansion of aquaculture activities. In 2004, fish farmers accounted for one-quarter of the total number of fish workers in the primary sector. China is by far the country with the highest number of fishers and fish farmers, reported to be 13 million in 2004, representing about 30 percent of the world total. Current fleet-size reduction programmes in China to tackle overcapacity are reducing the number of people engaged in capture fisheries, which declined by 13 percent during the period 2001-04. the numbers engaged in fishing and aquaculture in most industrialized economies have been declining or remain stationary.

The world fishing fleet comprised about 4 million units at the end of 2004, of which 1.3 million were decked vessels of various types, tonnage and power, and 2.7 million undecked (open) boats. While virtually all decked vessels were mechanized, only about one-third of the undecked fishing boats were powered, generally with outboard engines. the remaining two-thirds were traditional craft of various types operated by sail and oars. About 86 percent of the decked vessels were concentrated in Asia; the remainder were accounted for by Europe (7.8 percent), North and Central America (3.8 percent), Africa (1.3 percent), South America (0.6 percent) and Oceania (0.4 percent). Many countries have adopted policies to limit the growth of national fishing capacity or reduce it in order to protect the fishery resources and to make fishing economically viable for the harvesting enterprises. there are indications that the fleets of decked fishing vessels in longstanding developed fishing nations have continued to decrease in size, especially those operating offshore and in distant waters. However, even in these countries, the rate of reduction of fishing power is generally less significant than the rate of reduction of fishing vessels. On the other hand, some countries report a continuing expansion of their fleets. Overall, the number of fishing vessels worldwide did not change significantly in either 2003 or 2004.

Just as the world fishing fleet appears to have stabilized, the overall state of exploitation of the world’s marine fishery resources has tended to remain relatively stable, although for resources this has been the case for a longer period of time. Over the past 10-15 years, the proportion of overexploited and depleted stocks has remained unchanged, after showing a marked increase during the 1970s and 1980s. It is estimated that in 2005, as in recent years, around one-quarter of the stock groups monitored by FAO were underexploited or moderately exploited and could perhaps produce more, whereas about half of the stocks were fully exploited and therefore producing catches that were at, or close to, their maximum sustainable limits, with no room for further expansion. the remaining stocks were either overexploited, depleted or recovering from depletion and thus were yielding less than their maximum potential owing to excess fishing pressure. the situation seems more serious for certain fishery resources that are exploited solely or partially in the high seas and, in particular, for straddling stocks and for highly migratory oceanic sharks. this confirms earlier observations that the maximum wild capture fishery potential from the world’s oceans has probably been reached and reinforces the calls for more cautious and effective fisheries management to rebuild depleted stocks and prevent the decline of those being exploited at or close to their maximum potential. In the case of inland fishery resources, there is widespread overfishing, arising from either intensive targeting of individual large-size species in major river systems or overexploitation of highly diverse species assemblages or ecosystems in the tropics.

Total world trade in fish and fishery products reached a record value of uS$71.5 billion (export value) in 2004, representing a 23 percent growth relative to 2000. Preliminary estimates for 2005 indicate a further increase in the value of fishery exports. In real terms (adjusted for inflation), exports of fish and fishery products increased by 17.3 percent during the period 2000-04. In terms of quantity, exports in live-weight-equivalent terms in 2004 accounted for 38 percent of total fisheries and aquaculture production, confirming fish as one of the most highly traded food and feed commodities. the share of fish trade in both total gross domestic product (GDP) and agricultural GDP has roughly doubled over the past 25 years. China has been the world’s main exporter since 2002, and in 2004 its fish exports were valued at uS$6.6 billion following remarkable average annual growth of 12 percent in the period 1992-2004. the fishery net exports of developing countries (i.e. the total value of their exports less the total value of their imports) have shown a continuing rising trend over the past two decades, growing from uS$4.6 billion in 1984 to uS$16.0 billion in 1994 to uS$20.4 billion in 2004. these figures are significantly higher than those for other agricultural commodities such as rice, coffee and tea. Shrimp continues to be the most important commodity traded in value terms, accounting for 16.5 percent of the total value of internationally traded fishery products in 2004, followed by groundfish (10.2 percent), tuna (8.7 percent) and salmon (8.5 percent). In 2004, fishmeal represented around 3.3 percent of the value of exports and fish oil less than 1 percent.

In the realm of marine fisheries governance, regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) play a unique role in facilitating international cooperation for the conservation and management of fish stocks. these organizations currently represent the only realistic means of governing fish stocks that occur either as straddling or shared stocks between zones of national jurisdiction, between these zones and the high seas, or exclusively on the high seas. Strengthening REMOs in order to conserve and manage fish stocks more effectively remains the major challenge facing international fisheries governance. Despite efforts over the past decade to improve their management capacity and their images as effective and responsive organizations, some REMOs have failed to achieve their fundamental goal of the sustainable management of stocks, which has in turn led to increasing international criticism. However, many RFMOs are taking steps to implement the ecosystem approach to fisheries (EAF) and are striving to adopt the precautionary approach; strengthening international cooperation; promoting transparency; encouraging eligible non-members to become members of organizations or to become cooperating non-parties/entities; and enhancing compliance and enforcement through improved monitoring, control and surveillance.

Similarly for inland fisheries, there is a need for a system of governance for transboundary fisheries and fishery resources. Many of the world’s large river basins cross one or several international borders, and many riverine fish species migrate across boundaries with the result that activities in one country may affect fish stocks and communities exploiting the fish stocks in another country. Appropriate fisheries management in such cases requires that suitable policies for sustaining the shared resources (water and biological resources) are developed at the regional level, and that these policies are incorporated into national legislation and implemented. regional frameworks do exist that deal with the management of inland waters and living aquatic resources, and there have been some recent encouraging developments in this area. But governance remains incomplete as only 44 percent of the international basins are the subject of one or more agreements, and these agreements may not include fisheries. Not only are inland fisheries unlikely to become the primary focus in all water management programmes, but there is also a risk that the needs of fishing communities and small-scale fisheries would not be considered in such programmes unless water governance systems are designed to include inland fisheries.

Unlike capture fisheries, aquaculture activities are generally located within national jurisdictions, and so governance is a national responsibility. there is growing understanding that sustainable development of the aquaculture sector requires an enabling environment, with appropriate institutional, legal and management frameworks guided by an overall policy. Notable progress has been made in a number of institutional, legal and management development areas, including the use of various public- and private-sector partnership arrangements. Integrated land-use and environmental planning are being pursued and regulations implemented, often through self-regulation according to codes of practice. Co-management is an emerging trend, usually applied in the management of common property resources, and as such has been effective in culture-based fisheries, a form of aquaculture practised communally in small water bodies in rural areas.

In recent years, issues relevant to international trade in fishery products have been prominent. they include labelling and traceability requirements; ecolabelling; illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing; the sustainable development of aquaculture; subsidies in production and trade agreements. Some of these issues form part of the agenda for the multilateral trade negotiations in the World trade Organization (WTO), where countries also discuss fisheries and pay particular attention to fisheries subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing and how these can be disciplined yet reconciled with sustainable development considerations. It seems possible that the outcomes of the fishery subsidy negotiations will depend on how certain technical issues will be defined and agreed and also on how far WTO Members will go in addressing not only trade, but also environmental and development issues.

CAPTURE FISHERIES PRODUCTION

Total capture fisheries production

Global capture production in 2004 reached 95.0 million tonnes, an increase of 5 percent in comparison with 2003, when total catch had declined to 90.5 million tonnes (table 1). the highest and lowest total catch (Figure 3) in the past ten years (1995-2004) for which complete statistics are available at the end of 2006 coincided with the fluctuating catches of Peruvian anchoveta, a species notoriously influenced by the El Niño effects on the oceanographic conditions of the Southeast Pacific. Catches of this small pelagic species in the decade ranged from a minimum of 1.7 million tonnes in 1998 to a maximum of 11.3 million tonnes in 2000, whereas global total catches excluding anchoveta remained relatively stable between 83.6 and 86.5 million tonnes.

Preliminary estimates for 2005 global capture production indicate that inland water catches have increased by almost 0.4 million tonnes and marine catches have decreased by over 1.5 million tonnes. However, less than one-third of the marine capture production lost in 2005 in comparison with 2004 can be attributed to the high variability of Peruvian anchoveta, as total catches of all other marine species combined were reduced by about 1 million tonnes.

The estimated first-hand value of global capture fisheries production amounted to some uS$84.9 billion, representing a 3.6 percent growth over the value recorded for 2003. Of this total, fish for reduction purposes had a first-hand value of uS$3.4 billion.

The only recent change in the ranking of top ten producer countries (Figure 4) was the gain by Chile. the country moved from sixth place in 2002, to seventh in 2003, to fourth place in 2004 - again a consequence of the fluctuating catches of anchoveta. Official catch statistics reported by China have been highly stable since 1998 (Figure 3) and in the period between 2001 and 2004 varied only from 16.5 to 16.9 million tonnes. However, distant-water catches by Chinese vessels have been growing significantly since 1998 and in 2004 exceeded 0.4 million tonnes, about the same quantity caught by each of Japan, the republic of Korea and taiwan Province of China, which traditionally have fished in distant waters but have been progressively reducing their distant-water activities in recent years.

World marine capture fisheries production

Marine capture fisheries production was 85.8 million tonnes in 2004. As for the global total catches (including also inland capture production), its recent trend has been strongly influenced by variations in anchoveta catches off Peru and Chile.

The Northwest and Southeast Pacific still rank as the most productive fishing areas (Figure 5). In the three, mostly tropical, areas (Western and Eastern Indian Ocean, Western Central Pacific) for which, ten years ago, FAO forecast that there was still room for fishery development,2 total catches continued to increase in the Eastern Indian Ocean and Western Central Pacific. However, in the Western Indian Ocean capture production decreased in 2004 in comparison with 2003 and the upward long-term trend has probably lost momentum in this fishing area. Coastal fisheries in the Western Indian Ocean seem to be more vulnerable than in the other two areas, with a reduction in total catch, excluding tuna, of 0.2 million tonnes in 2004. total catches of tuna, which is the most valuable group of species and generally exported out of the area, reached almost 30 percent of the total catch.

THE STATE OF WORLD FISHERIES AND AQUACULTURE 2006

THE STATE OF WORLD FISHERIES AND AQUACULTURE 2006

A continuous increasing trend in catches can be observed in the Northwest Atlantic and Northeast Pacific since the recent minimums in 1998 and 2000, respectively (see Figure 18 on pp. 30–31). these two temperate fishing areas are among the most regulated and managed in the world, and the catch recovery that has occurred recently may be viewed as an indication of the effectiveness of management measures enforced after the crises experienced in the 1990s. the Mediterranean and Black Sea appears to be the most stable fishing area in terms of total catches (1996 and 2004 quantities were unchanged, with only minor fluctuations), but a more detailed analysis by species group shows an increase in small pelagics and a decrease in demersal fishes, tunas and sharks, suggesting that among the most valuable fishery resources several are declining.

Total catches in 2004 decreased by over 10 percent in comparison with 2002 in three fishing areas: Northeast Atlantic, Southwest Atlantic and Eastern Central Pacific. In the Northeast Atlantic, for the first time since 1991 catches totalled less than 10 million tonnes. A sharp drop in catches of Argentine shortfin squid by local and distant-water fleets (2004 capture production was one-ninth of that in 1999) brought down total catch in the Southwest Atlantic to its lowest level since 1984 (Figure 18). Catches in the Eastern Central Pacific peaked in 2002 at almost 2 million tonnes, but in the following two years declined by about 13 percent.

With production totalling about 10.7 million tonnes in 2004, the Peruvian anchoveta leads by far the ranking of the ten most caught marine species (Figure 6). However, there have been no dramatic changes in this ranking since 2002. the capelin (a small pelagic), which ranked fourth in 2002, had dropped from the list by 2004 and was replaced by the yellowfin tuna. Blue whiting and chub mackerel gained some places to the detriment of Japanese anchovy and Chilean jack mackerel.

Catches of oceanic tunas have remained fairly stable since 2002, whereas total catch of deep-water species and of other epipelagic species, mostly oceanic squids, increased by over 20 percent between 2002 and 2004. the share of oceanic catches in the total marine catch exceeded 12 percent in both 2003 and 2004. Box 1 (see pp. 12–13) provides further information on oceanic species.

Regarding trends by species groups, catches of shrimps and cephalopods increased impressively in the decade to 2004 (by 47.2 and 28.4 percent, respectively) and at the end of the decade they both attained the highest ever totals at about 3.6 and 3.8 million tonnes. For the shrimp group, an analysis of species trends is difficult as large quantities of catches are reported as unidentified shrimps. Within the cephalopods, increased catches of jumbo flying squid and of “various squid not identified” from the Pacific compensated for the collapse of Argentine shortfin squid catches in the Atlantic. total catches of both tuna and shark decreased in 2004 after having reached a peak in 2003.

THE STATE OF WORLD FISHERIES AND AQUACULTURE 2006

When analysing catch trends for individual species, it should be kept in mind that a trend may be altered either by underestimation caused by a portion of catches being reported at the unspecified level or, conversely, by improvements in the species breakdown being used to report catch statistics. Although the number of species items included in the FAO capture database has been growing at an average annual rate of 5 percent over the past eight years and the percentage of catches reported at the species level has increased in recent years, about 37 percent of global catches are still not reported at the species level. Some 27 percent are reported at higher taxonomic levels and 10 percent are included under the category “marine fishes not identified”.

World inland capture fisheries production

After a minor decrease in 2002, total global inland catches rose again in 2003 and 2004, reaching a total of 9.2 million tonnes in the latter year. Africa and Asia together continue to contribute about 90 percent of the world total (Figure 7) and their shares are also fairly stable. Inland fisheries, however, seem to be in crisis in Europe, where the total catches have decreased by 30 percent since 1999. the decline in professional fishing in European inland waters can be attributed partly to competition with other human activities in the use of inland water resources and also to the falling economic viability of many commercial inland fisheries. A considerable portion of catches comes from the recreational fishery. Statistics on inland catches in developed countries published by FAO are generally based on information made available by national correspondents, and total catches may vary significantly depending on whether or not the correspondent includes data on recreational catches.

The contrast in the importance and role played by inland fisheries in developed and developing countries (in the latter they are an important source of animal proteins in the poor rural areas) can be further noted by grouping countries by economic class (table 3). China and other developing countries accounted for 94.5 percent of the global inland catches in 2004, while the combined share of the economies in transition and industrialized countries decreased to 5.5 percent.

The top ten producer countries in 2004 (Figure 8) remained the same as in 2002. Myanmar, the united republic of tanzania and uganda (the last having improved the coverage of its data collection system, leading to an increase in the production registered) gained positions in the ranking whereas Cambodia, Egypt and Indonesia moved down. unfortunately, many countries still encounter great difficulties in managing and funding the collection of inland capture statistics. For example, despite the fact that African lakes and rivers provide food to a large number of inhabitants and also revenues from fish exported outside Africa, it was necessary for FAO to estimate the 2004 inland total catch for half of the African countries where inland fishing is known to take place.

Box 1

Fishery development phases of oceanic species

Fishing on the high seas continues to attract the attention of international organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the general public, all of which have a growing interest in management of high sea resources1 and a general concern for overfishing. High sea resources are defined as those occurring outside the exclusive economic zones (EEZs), and generally extend 200 nautical miles into the sea.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to extract from the FAO global fisheries statistics database a precise estimate of capture production from the high seas, as catch statistics are reported by broad fishing areas whose boundaries are not directly comparable with those of the EEZs. thus, the available data do not reveal whether or not the fish were caught within or outside the EEZs. However, as catch statistics for oceanic species are available in the FAO capture database, these can be used to analyse the catch trends and fishery development phases of this group of species, which are fished mostly outside the continental shelves.

Oceanic species can be broken into epipelagic species and deep-water species. the number of species classified as deep-water species continues to increase, reaching 115 in 2004, while the number of epipelagic species remained stable at 60. the improved breakdown of deep-water species reported in national catch statistics parallels the increase that occurred for shark species in recent years. Possible reasons may include a growing global awareness that vulnerable species need to be protected by serious management measures and these cannot be formulated and agreed unless basic information such as catch statistics is systematically collected.

In a recent FAO study,2 a method to identify and study phases of fishery development was applied to the 1950–2004 catch data series of oceanic species. the total catch trends (Figure A) show that oceanic epipelagic catches increased fairly steadily during the whole period, whereas fisheries for deep-water resources only started developing significantly in the late 1970s. this was made possible by technological developments applicable to fishing in deeper waters, but was also prompted by the need to exploit new fishing grounds following reduced opportunities owing to extended jurisdictions and declining resources in coastal areas. A comparative analysis of the development phases (Figures B and C) shows in greater detail that by the late 1960s the oceanic epipelagic resources classified as “undeveloped” had fallen to zero. this did not happen until the late 1970s for the oceanic deep-water resources. During the same 20-year period, the percentage of deep-water species classified as “senescent” exceeded that of epipelagic species and has continued to remain higher ever since. this result may be considered as further evidence that deep-water species are generally very vulnerable to overexploitation, mainly on account of their slow growth rates and late age at first maturity.


1 For example, the united Nations review Conference on the Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the united Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks, held in New York, united States of America, from 22 to 26 May 2006. (See also pp. 120–125.)

2 FAO. 2006. The state of world highly migratory, straddling and other high seas fIsheries resources, and associated species, by J.-J. Maguire, M. Sissenwine, J. Csirke, R. Grainger and S. Garcia. FAO Fisheries technical Paper No. 495. Rome.

THE STATE OF WORLD FISHERIES AND AQUACULTURE 2006

THE STATE OF WORLD FISHERIES AND AQUACULTURE 2006

THE STATE OF WORLD FISHERIES AND AQUACULTURE 2006

Table 3
Inland capture fishery production by economic class

 

Production in 2004 

(Million tonnes) (Percentage share of total)
China 2.42 26.2
Other developing countries 6.29 68.2
Economies in transition 0.29 3.2
Industrial countries 0.22 2.3
Total 9.22  

Trend analysis by species or species groups of the inland catch data in the FAO database risks being biased for two main reasons: the very poor species breakdown reported by many countries and the recent large fluctuations within the data for major items in the inland catch statistics reported by China, which represents over one-quarter of the global production.

In 2003 and 2004, global inland catches classified as “freshwater fishes not elsewhere included” again exceeded 50 percent of the total, and only about 19 percent of the total inland catch was reported at the species level. this has negative consequences as catch information by species is required for management purposes. In countries where inland fisheries are significant for food security and economic development, particularly in Africa and Asia, mismanagement of inland fisheries would as a rule lead to economic losses far greater than the expenditures needed to improve quality and detail of inland catch statistics significantly.

Following several years of collaboration with FAO, the species breakdown of the inland and marine catch statistics reported by China has improved. However, capture production trends of the three major inland species groups caught in China (i.e. fishes, crustaceans and molluscs) changed markedly in 2003 and 2004. the halving of “freshwater crustaceans” catches reported by China in 2004, following an extremely high peak in 2002, caused this species group to drop from second to fifth place in the world ranking (Figure 9). Global catches of tilapias and carps have been rising over the past two years, while the capture of shads (a species that tends to suffer from the effects of environmental alterations as the fish migrate between waters with different salinities) in 2004 were 12 percent below the quantities reported for 2002.

THE STATE OF WORLD FISHERIES AND AQUACULTURE 2006

AQUACULTURE

Aquaculture production

The contribution of aquaculture to global supplies of fish, crustaceans, molluscs and other aquatic animals3 continues to grow, increasing from 3.9 percent of total production by weight in 1970 to 27.1 percent in 2000 and 32.4 percent in 2004. Aquaculture continues to grow more rapidly than all other animal food-producing sectors. Worldwide, the sector has grown at an average rate of 8.8 percent per year since 1970, compared with only 1.2 percent for capture fisheries and 2.8 percent4 for terrestrial farmed meat production systems over the same period. Production from aquaculture has greatly outpaced population growth, with per capita supply from aquaculture increasing from 0.7 kg in 1970 to 7.1 kg in 2004, representing an average annual growth rate of 7.1 percent.

World aquaculture (food fish and aquatic plants) has grown significantly during the past half-century. From a production of below 1 million tonnes in the early 1950s, production in 2004 was reported to have risen to 59.4 million tonnes, with a value of uS$70.3 billion. this represents an average annual increase of 6.9 percent in quantity and 7.7 percent in value over reported figures for 2002. In 2004, countries in the Asia and the Pacific region accounted for 91.5 percent of the production quantity and 80.5 percent of the value. Of the world total, China is reported to account for 69.6 percent of the total quantity and 51.2 percent of the total value of aquaculture production (Figure 10).5

THE STATE OF WORLD FISHERIES AND AQUACULTURE 2006

In terms of food fish supply, the aquaculture sector in the world excluding China produced about 15 million tonnes of farmed aquatic products in 2004, compared with about 54 million tonnes from capture fisheries destined for direct human consumption. Corresponding figures reported for China were about 31 million tonnes from aquaculture and 6 million tonnes from capture fisheries – a powerful indication of the dominance of aquaculture in China.

Production within each region is diverse. In the Asia and the Pacific region, aquaculture production from China, South Asia and most of Southeast Asia consists primarily of cyprinids, while production from the rest of East Asia consists of high-value marine fish. In global terms, some 99.8 percent of cultured aquatic plants, 97.5 percent of cyprinids, 87.4 percent of penaeids and 93.4 percent of oysters come from Asia and the Pacific. Meanwhile, 55.6 percent of the world’s farmed salmonids come from Western Europe, mainly the northern part of the continent. However, carps dominate in the Central and Eastern European regions, both in quantity and in value.

In North America, channel catfish is the top aquaculture species in the united States of America, while Atlantic and Pacific salmon dominate in Canada. In Latin America and the Caribbean, over the past decade, salmonids have overtaken shrimp as the top aquaculture species group following disease outbreaks in major shrimp-producing areas and rapid growth in salmon production in Chile.

The sub-Saharan Africa region continues to be a minor player in aquaculture despite its natural potential. Even aquaculture of tilapia, which is native to the continent, has not developed significantly. Nigeria leads in the region, with reported production of 44 000 tonnes of catfish, tilapia and other freshwater fishes. there are some encouraging signs in the continent: black tiger shrimp (Penaeus monodon) in Madagascar and Eucheuma seaweed in the united republic of Tanzania are thriving, and production of niche species such as abalone (Haliotis spp.) in South Africa is increasing. In the Near East and North Africa, Egypt is by far the dominant country in terms of production (providing 92 percent of the regional total) and is now the second biggest tilapia producer after China and the world’s top producer of mullets.

The top ten producing countries for food fish supply from aquaculture in 2004 are indicated in table 4 along with the top ten countries in terms of annual growth in aquaculture production for the two-year period 2002-04. All regions showed increases in production from 2002 to 2004, led by the Near East and North Africa region and Latin America and the Caribbean with 13.5 and 9.6 percent average annual growth, respectively.

World aquatic plant production in 2004 reached 13.9 million tonnes (uS$6.8 billion), of which 10.7 million tonnes (uS$5.1 billion) originated from China, 1.2 million tonnes from the Philippines, 0.55 million tonnes from the republic of Korea and 0.48 million tonnes from Japan. Japanese kelp (Laminaria japonica – 4.5 million tonnes) showed the highest production followed by Wakame (Undaria pinnatifida – 2.5 million tonnes) and Nori (Porphya tenera – 1.3 million tonnes). An additional 2.6 million tonnes were reported by countries as “aquatic plants” and not further specified. the production of aquatic plants increased rapidly from the 2002 total of 11.6 million tonnes, primarily as a result of large production increases in China.6

The growth in production of the different major species groups continues, although the increases seen so far this decade are less dramatic than the extraordinary growth rates achieved in the 1980s and 1990s (Figure 11, table 5). the period 2000-04 has seen strong growth in production of crustaceans, in particular, and of marine fish. Growth rates for the production of the other species groups have begun to slow and the overall rate of growth, while still substantial, is not comparable with the significant rate increases seen in the previous two decades. thus, while the trend for the near future appears to be one of continued increases in production, the rate of these increases may be moderating. Figure 12 presents an overview of aquaculture production in terms of quantity and value by major species group for 2004.

Table 4
Top ten aquaculture producers of food fish supply: quantity and emerging growth

Producer 

2002

2004

APR

(Tonnes)

(Percentage)

Top ten producers in terms of quantity, 2004

China

27 767 251

30 614 968

5.0

India

2 187 189

2 472 335

6.3

Viet Nam

703 041

1 198 617

30.6

Thailand

954 567

1 172 866

10.8

Indonesia

914 071

1 045 051

6.9

Bangladesh

786 604

914 752

7.8

Japan

826 715

776 421

-3.1

Chile 545 655 674 979 11.2

Norway

550 209

637 993

7.7

United States of America

497 346

606 549

10.4

       

TOP TEN SUBTOTAL

35 732 648

40 114 531

6.0

REST OF THE WORLD

4 650 830

5 353 825

7.3

Total

40 383 478

45 468 356

6.1

 
Top ten producers in terms of growth, 2002–04 

Myanmar

190 120

400 360

45.1

Viet Nam

703 041

1 198 617

30.6

Turkey

61 165

94 010

24.0

Netherlands

54 442

78 925

20.4

Republic of Korea

296 783

405 748

16.9

Iran (Islamic rep. of)

76 817

104 330

16.5

Egypt

376 296

471 535

11.9

Chile

545 655

674 979

11.2

Thailand

954 567

1 172 866

10.8

United States of America

497 346

606 549

10.4

Note: Data exclude aquatic plants. APR refers to the average annual percentage growth rate for 2002–04.

Table 5
World aquaculture production: average annual rate of growth for different species groups

Time period

 

Crustaceans

Molluscs

Freshwater

Diadromous

Marine

Overall

 

fish

fish

fish 

(Percentage)

1970–2004

18.9

7.7

9.3

7.3

10.5

8.8

1970–1980

23.9

5.6

6.0

6.5

14.1

6.2

1980–1990

24.1

7.0

13.1

9.4

5.3

10.8

1990–2000

9.1

11.6

10.5

6.5

12.5

10.5

2000–2004

19.2

5.3

5.2

5.8

9.6

6.3

The top ten species groups in terms of production quantity and percentage increase in production quantity from 2002 to 2004 are shown in table 6. Production of carps far exceeded that for all other species groups, accounting for over 40 percent (18.3 million tonnes) of total production of fish, crustaceans and molluscs in 2004. Combined, the top ten species groups account for 90.5 percent of the total aquaculture contribution to fisheries food supply. the largest production for an individual species was the Pacific cupped oyster (Crassostrea gigas – 4.4 million tonnes), followed by three species of carp – the silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix – 4.0 million tonnes), the grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idellus – 3.9 million tonnes) and the common carp (Cyprinus carpio – 3.4 million tonnes). In terms of value, shrimp culture is second in importance and has increased substantially in the 2002-04 period.

THE STATE OF WORLD FISHERIES AND AQUACULTURE 2006

THE STATE OF WORLD FISHERIES AND AQUACULTURE 2006

Table 6
Top ten species groups in aqualculture production: quantity and emerging growth

Species group 

2002

2004

APR

(Tonnes)

(Percentage)

Top ten species groups in terms of aquaculture production, 2004

Carps and other cyprinids

16 673 155

18 303 847

4.8

Oysters

4 332 357

4 603 717

3.1

Clams, cockles, arkshells

3 457 510

4 116 839

9.1

Miscellaneous freshwater fishes

3 763 902

3 739 949

-0.3

Shrimps, prawns

1 495 950

2 476 023

28.7

Salmons, trouts, smelts

1 791 061

1 978 109

5.1

Mussels

1 700 871

1 860 249

4.6

Tilapias and other cichlids

1 483 309

1 822 745

10.9

Scallops, pectens

1 228 692

1 166 756

-2.6

Miscellaneous marine molluscs

1 389 586

1 065 191

-12.4

Top ten species groups in terms of growth in production of fish, crustaceans and molluscs, 2002–04

Sea urchins and other echinoderms

25

60 852

4 833.6

Abalones, winkles, conchs

2 970

287 720

884.3

Frogs and other amphibians

3 074

76 876

400.1

Freshwater molluscs

13 414

142 346

225.8

Sturgeons, paddlefishes

3 816

15 551

101.9

Miscellaneous aquatic invertebrates

12 593

42 159

83.0

Flounders, halibuts, soles

35 513

109 342

75.5

Miscellaneous coastal fishes

386 160

878 589

50.8

Miscellaneous demersal fishes

16 638

31 531

37.7

Shrimps, prawns

1 495 950

2 476 023

28.7

Note: Data exclude aquatic plants. APR refers to the average annual percentage growth rate for 2002–04.

The increasing diversity of aquaculture production can be seen in the list of species groups registering the largest growth from 2002 to 2004. Sea urchins and other echinoderms lead the list with a remarkable increase in reported production from 25 tonnes in 2002 to 60 852 tonnes in 2004. In reality, while this does represent an area of emerging activity in aquaculture, this item also reflects an effort made by China to improve its reporting of aquaculture data. Beginning in 2003, China greatly expanded the number of species reported in its data, including 15 new freshwater species and 13 new marine species. this resulted in corresponding decreases in the reporting of production in aggregated, “unspecified” groupings.

Most aquaculture production of fish, crustaceans and molluscs continues to derive from the freshwater environment (56.6 percent by quantity and 50.1 percent by value) (Figure 13). Mariculture contributes 36.0 percent of production quantity and 33.6 percent of the total value. While much of the marine production consists of high-value finfish, there is also a large amount of relatively low-priced mussels and oysters.7 Although brackish-water production represented only 7.4 percent of production quantity in 2004, it contributed 16.3 percent of the total value, reflecting the prominence of high-value crustaceans and finfish.

From 1970 to 2004, Chinese inland water aquaculture production increased at an average annual rate of 10.8 percent, compared with 7.0 percent in the rest of the world.8 Similarly, during the same period, Chinese aquaculture production in marine areas, excluding aquatic plants, increased at an average annual rate of 10.7 percent compared with 5.9 percent in the rest of the world. Figure 14 shows trends in inland and marine aquaculture production for China and the rest of the world.

THE STATE OF WORLD FISHERIES AND AQUACULTURE 2006

Unlike terrestrial farming systems, where the bulk of global production is based on a limited number of animal and plant species, over 240 different farmed aquatic animal and plant species were reported in 2004, an increase of 20 species compared with the number reported in 2002. these 240 species represent 94 families; moreover, this diversity is probably underestimated, as 8.9 million tonnes (15.1 percent) of global aquaculture production, including an additional 20 families, was not reported to the species level in 2004, and this “unspecified” group is likely to include species not yet recorded as being cultured. Of aquaculture reported to FAO to the species level, the top ten species account for 61.7 percent of total production and the top 25 species for 86.6 percent. these figures are lower than those for 2000 (68.1 percent and 91.0 percent, respectively), providing a further indication that species diversification in aquaculture is increasing.

It is noteworthy that the growth of aquaculture production of fish, crustaceans and molluscs within developing countries has exceeded the corresponding growth in developed countries, proceeding at an average annual rate of 10.2 percent since 1970. In contrast, aquaculture production within developed countries has been increasing at an average rate of 3.9 percent per year. In developing countries other than China, production has grown at an annual rate of 8.2 percent. In 1970, developing countries accounted for 58.8 percent of production, while in 2002 their share was 91.4 percent. In the period from 2002 to 2004, the trend was even more dramatic as production in developing countries other than China increased at an annual rate of 11.0 percent, compared with 5.0 percent for China and 2.3 percent for developed countries.

THE STATE OF WORLD FISHERIES AND AQUACULTURE 2006

With the exception of marine shrimp, the bulk of aquaculture production within developing countries in 2004 comprised omnivorous/herbivorous fish or filter-feeding species. In contrast, approximately three-quarters of finfish culture production in developed countries was of carnivorous species.

FISHERS AND FISH FARMERS

Millions of people around the world depend on fisheries and aquaculture, directly or indirectly, for their livelihoods. During the past three decades, the number of fishers and aquaculturists has grown faster than the world's population, and employment in the fisheries sector has grown faster than employment in traditional agriculture. In 2004, an estimated 41 million people (Table 7) worked (part time or full time) as fishers and fish farmers, accounting for 3.1 percent of the 1.36 billion people economically active in agriculture worldwide and representing a growth rate of 35 percent from the corresponding figure of 2.3 percent in 1990. The great majority of fishers and fish farmers are in developing countries, principally in Asia. Significant increases over recent decades, in particular in Asia, reflect the strong expansion of aquaculture activities. In 2004, the number of fish farmers accounted for one-quarter of the total number of fish workers. This figure is indicative, as some countries do not collect employment data separately for the two sectors and some other countries’ national systems do not yet account for fish farming.

Table 7
World fishers and fish farmers by continent

 

1990

1995

2000

2003

2004

(Thousands) 

Total 

Africa

1 832

1 950

2 981

2 870

2 852

North and Central America

760 777 891

841

864

South America

730 704 706

689

700

Asia

23 736 28 096 34 103

36 189

36 281

Europe

626 466 766

653

656

Oceania

55 52 49

50

54

           

World

27 737

32 045

39 495

41 293

41 408

 

Of which fish farmers1 

Africa

3 14 83

117

117

North and Central America

3 6 75

62

64

South America

66 213 194

193

194

Asia

3 738 5 986 8 374

10 155

10 837

Europe

20 27 30

68

73

Oceania

1 1 5

5

4

           

World

3 832

6 245

8 762

10 599

11 289

1 Data for 1990 and 1995 were reported by only a limited number of countries and therefore are not comparable with those for the following years.

China is by far the country with the highest number of fishers and fish farmers, reported to be 13.0 million in 2004 (31 percent of the world total). Of these, 4.5 million were fish farmers (an increase of 158 percent compared with numbers in 1990), while 8.5 million worked in capture fisheries. Current fleet-size reduction programmes in China, aimed at reducing overfishing, are reducing the number of full-time and part-time fishers. the number of people engaged in capture fisheries declined by 13 percent during the period 2001-04 and there are plans to transfer a proportion of fishers to other jobs by 2007. the policy tools to accomplish this move include, among others, scrapping vessels and training redundant fishers in fish farming. In 2004, other countries with a significant number of fishers and fish farmers were India, Indonesia and Viet Nam.

While the number of people employed in fisheries and aquaculture has been growing steadily in most low- and middle-income countries, the numbers in most industrialized economies have been declining or have remained stationary (table 8). In Japan and Norway the numbers of fishers have more than halved between 1970 and 2004, with a decrease of 58 percent and 54 percent, respectively. In many industrialized countries, the decline has occurred mainly for fishers working in capture fisheries, while the number of fish farmers has increased.

Estimates indicate that there were about 1 million fishers in industrialized countries in 2004, representing a decline of 18 percent compared with 1990 figures. Productivity increases and falling recruitment count among the various reasons for these shrinking numbers.

In recent decades, growing investment in costly onboard equipment, resulting in higher operational efficiencies and less need for seagoing personnel, has led to a significant decline in the number of people employed at sea.

Moreover, the average age of active fishers is increasing as a result of the rapid decline of recruitment into capture fisheries. For example, according to the 2003 Fishery Census of Japan, 47 percent of male fishers were 60 years of age or older in 2004, 23 percent higher than in 1988. At the same time, the share of the younger group of fishers (under 40 years old), which represented one-quarter of the total number of marine fishers in Japan in 1982, had declined to 13.3 percent by 2003. the number of Japanese workers employed in offshore and distant-water fishing declined during the period 1998-2003 by 28 percent to 25 000 people in 2003.

Table 8
Number of fishers and fish farmers in selected countries

Country

Fishery

 

1990

1995

2000

2003

2004

WORLD

FI + AQ (number)

27 737 435

32 045 098

39 495 195

41 292 679

41 407 771

 

(index)

70

81

100

105

105

FI (number) 23 905 853 25 799 922 30 733 366 30 693 835

30 118 720

 

(index)

78

84

100

100

98

AQ (number) 3 831 582 6 245 176 8 761 829 10 598 844

11 289 051

 

(index)

44

71

100

121

129

China

FI + AQ (number) 9 092 926 11 428 655 12 935 689 13 162 812

13 018 332

 

(index)

70

88

100

102

101

FI (number) 7 351 927 8 759 162 9 213 340 8 838 638

8 528 361

 

(index)

80

95

100

96

93

AQ (number) 1 740 999 2 669 493 3 722 349 4 324 174

4 489 971

 

(index)

47

72

100

116

121

Indonesia

FI + AQ (number) 3 617 586 4 568 059 5 247 620 6 052 597

6 240 420

 

(index)

69

87

100

115

119

FI (number) 1 995 290 2 463 237 3 104 861 3 782 397

3 950 420

 

(index)

64

79

100

122

127

AQ1

(number) 1 622 296 2 104 822 2 142 759 2 270 200

2 290 000

 

(index)

76

98

100

106

107

Iceland

FI + AQ (number) 6 951 7 000 6 100 5 100

4 600

 

(index)

114

115

100

84

75

Japan

FI + AQ (number) 370 600 301 440 260 200 295 921

230 990

 

(index)

142

116

100

114

89

Norway

FI + AQ (number) 32 022 28 269 24 399 21 621

19 874

 

(index)

131

116

100

89

81

FI (number) 27 518 23 653 20 072 17 205

15 586

 

(index)

137

118

100

86

78

AQ (number) 4 504 4 616 4 327 4 416

4 288

 

(index)

104

107

100

102

99

Peru

FI + AQ (number) 43 750 62 930 93 789 91 757

98 692

 

(index)

47

67

100

98

105

FI (number) ... 60 030 91 226 88 967

95 512

 

(index)

...

66

100

98

105

AQ (number) ... 2 900 2 563 2 790

3 180

 

(index)

...

113

100

109

124

Note: FI = fishing, AQ = aquaculture; index: 2000 = 100; ... = data not available.
1
Data for 2003 and 20054 are FAO estimates.

 In industrialized countries, younger workers seem reluctant to go to sea on fishing vessels. there are probably several reasons. For many young men, neither the salaries nor the quality of life aboard fishing vessels compares favourably with those of land-based industries. Also, many will be aware of public concerns about the status of stocks and therefore see capture fisheries as having an uncertain future.

As a result, fishing firms in industrialized countries have begun to look elsewhere when recruiting personnel. In Europe, fishers from the economies in transition or from developing countries are starting to replace local fishers. Also in Japan, foreign workers have been allowed to work on Japanese distant-water fishing vessels under the “maru-ship system”.9

A characteristic feature of employment in the fishing industry is the prevalence of occasional10 or part-time employment, peaking in the months of the year when riverine, coastal and offshore resources are more abundant or available, but leaving time in seasonal lows for other occupations. this is especially true in fisheries for migratory species and those subject to seasonal weather variations. During the past three decades, the number of full-time fishers has declined while the number of part­time fishers has grown quite rapidly. this trend has been particularly marked in Asia.

It is not possible to obtain a comprehensive picture of the role of women in the fisheries sector from the available statistics. Millions of women around the world, particularly in developing countries, work in the sector. Women participate as entrepreneurs and by providing labour before, during and after the catch in both artisanal and commercial fisheries. their labour often consists of making and mending nets, baskets and pots and baiting hooks. In fishing, women are rarely engaged in commercial offshore and deep-sea waters, but more commonly involved in fishing from small boats and canoes in coastal or inland waters – harvesting bivalves, molluscs and pearls, collecting seaweed and setting nets or traps. Women also play an important role in aquaculture, where they attend to fish ponds, feed and harvest fish, and collect prawn larvae and fish fingerlings. However, women’s most important role in both artisanal and industrial fisheries is at the processing and marketing stages. In some countries, women have become important entrepreneurs in fish processing; in fact, most fish processing is performed by women, either in their own cottage-level industries or as wage labourers in the large-scale processing industry.

The fisheries sector, including aquaculture, is an important source of employment and income. However, employment in fishing and fish farming cannot be taken as the sole indication of the importance of fisheries to a national economy. the fishing industry also generates considerable employment in shipbuilding and shipyard operations; in the fishing gear industry; in the production of technological equipment; in aquaculture feed production; and in processing, packaging and transport. unfortunately, statistics are not currently available for the total number of individuals providing inputs to fisheries and aquaculture through these activities.

THE STATUS OF THE FISHING FLEET

Number of vessels

At the end of 2004, the world fishing fleet consisted of about 4 million units, of which 1.3 million were decked vessels of various types, tonnage and power, and 2.7 million were undecked (open) boats. While virtually all decked vessels were mechanized, only about one-third of the undecked fishing boats were powered, generally with outboard engines. the remaining two-thirds were traditional craft of various types, operated by sail and oars. About 86 percent of the decked vessels were concentrated in Asia, followed by Europe (7.8 percent), North and Central America (3.8 percent), Africa (1.3 percent), South America (0.6 percent) and Oceania (0.4 percent) (Figure 15).

 Statistics on total tonnage and total power of world fishing fleets are not available on a global basis. Information on the number of fishing vessels and boats is largely derived from national registers and other administrative records, and may therefore include some non-operational units. At the same time, national administrative records often exclude smaller boats whose registration is not compulsory and/or whose fishing licences are granted by provincial or municipal authorities. Data made available to FAO by national respondents concerning these smaller fishing boats are often estimates; in such cases, respondents frequently keep the numbers constant over the years. In addition, reporting practices for fishing fleets operating in freshwaters vary among countries, with only a few countries making a clear distinction between marine and freshwater fleets. In view of all these factors, the currently available information has only limited value for monitoring and detecting global trends in fishing capacity.

THE STATE OF WORLD FISHERIES AND AQUACULTURE 2006

Nevertheless, the issue of overcapacity in fishing fleets and their reduction to the levels that should be in balance with long-term sustainable exploitation of resources has received global attention during the past two decades. Many countries have adopted policies for limiting the growth of national fishing capacity in order to protect the aquatic resources and to make fishing economically viable for the harvesting enterprises. the European Economic Community in 1983 decided to tackle the problem by setting maximum levels of fishing capacity and/or effort on the part of Members. However, this policy was found to be unsatisfactory and cumbersome to manage and the European union (Eu) decided to replace this policy with the “Entry-Exit scheme” that has been in force since 2003. the scheme requires that all new fishing vessels be directly compensated by the withdrawal, without public aid, of equivalent capacity. the ten countries that joined the Eu in 2004 are also subject to the “Entry-Exit scheme” and to the establishment of vessel registers.

In 2002, China adopted a five-year programme to delicense and scrap by 2007 30 000 fishing boats, or 7 percent of its commercial fleet. the programme, with funds worth the equivalent of uS$33 million per year in compensations, is based on voluntary participation and targets the smaller vessels operating near-shore. A related regulation prevents the construction of new fishing vessels other than to replace an existing vessel that has a fishing licence. In the first year, 5 000 boats were scrapped and their licences withdrawn under this programme. Nevertheless, the numbers of commercial vessels reported to FAO in both 2003 and 2004 are above the number reported as being in operation in 2002.

There are indications that the size of the decked fleets of longstanding developed fishing nations, including Denmark, Iceland, Japan, Norway, the Russian Federation and the united Kingdom, has continued to decrease, especially those operating offshore and in distant waters. However, even in these countries, the rate of reduction of fishing power is generally less significant than the rate of reduction in the number of fishing vessels. this means that while there is a tendency towards smaller fleets in terms of number of vessels, the average size of vessels is increasing. the capacity adjustment process seems to lead to larger vessels that permit owners to improve economic efficiency and operational safety.

On the other hand, data from Indonesia and the Philippines indicate a continuous expansion of their fleets, and in the united States of America the number of vessels over 100 gross tonnage (GT) increased by 3.5 percent between 2003 and 2005. In South America, while Argentina and Chile reduced the number of industrial vessels, most countries for which data are available have experienced a general growth of coastal fleets. As a result, the number of fishing vessels worldwide has remained fairly constant in recent years (table 9).

Fish carriers and the high seas fleet

There have been suggestions that the recent rapid rise of fuel prices will change the economics of the fishing industry, especially with regard to distant-water fishing. the use of fish carriers is likely to increase in an attempt to cut overall fuel costs by reducing the time fishing vessels spend steaming to and from the fishing grounds. According to the database of Lloyd’s maritime information service, the countries reporting more than 60 fish carriers in 2005 were China, Japan, Panama and the Russian Federation. Forty-three fish carriers (6 percent of the total) were identified as “unknown” flag, among which 50 percent had previously been recorded as flying the flags of Belize or the Russian Federation.

Figure 16 shows the age distribution of fishing vessels and fish carriers above 100 GT operational at the end of 2005. the average age of the global fishing fleet above 100 GT continues to increase, with relatively small numbers of vessels being built in recent years. the pattern of fish carrier construction broadly follows that of the fishing fleet, with increasing numbers of fish carriers being built up until the late 1980s followed by a decline. the pattern was broken in the outlier shown for 2002, when 12 fish carriers were built for delivery to Thailand.

Table 9
Powered fishing fleets in selected countries

   

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

China

Number 487 297 479 810 478 406 514 739 509 717

513 913

Tonnage (GT)

6 849 326 6 986 159 6 933 949 7 225 660 7 115 195

7 139 746

Power (kW)

14 257 891 14 570 750 14 880 685 15 735 824 15 506 720

15 861 838

Eu-15 Number 95 501 92 409 90 106 87 881 85 480

83 677

Tonnage (GT)

2 022 244 2 014 053 1 965 306 1 906 718 1 882 597

1 791 195

Power (kW)

7 632 221 7 507 699 7 295 386 7 097 720 6 941 077

6 787 611

Iceland

Number 892 955 947 940 939

927

Tonnage (GT)

175 099 186 573 187 018 179 394 187 079

177 615

Power (kW)

438 526 468 377 466 288 455 016 462 785

447 260

Japan

Number 337 600 331 571 325 229 320 010 ...

...

Tonnage (GT)

1 447 960 1 406 882 1 377 000 1 342 120 ...

...

Power (kW)

... ... ... ... ...

...

Norway

Number 13 017 11 922 10 641 9 911 8 184

7 723

Tonnage (GT)

392 316 403 678 394 561 395 327 394 846

373 282

Power (kW)

1 321 060 1 361 821 1 351 242 1 355 745 1 328 945

1 272 375

Republic of Korea

Number 89 294 89 347 89 327 88 521 87 203

...

Tonnage (GT)

917 963 880 467 812 629 750 763 721 398

...

Power (kW)

13 597 179 14 765 745 17 273 940 17 094 036 16 743 102

...

Russian Federation

Number 2 653 2 607 2 625 2 533 2 458

2 256

Tonnage (GT)

2 424 035 2 285 655 2 619 825 2 092 799 1 939 734

1 176 211

Power (kW)

2 808 349 2 439 806 2 338 582 2 310 717 2 111 332

1 942 064

Notes:
In 2000–04, the combined marine catches of the above countries represented between 41 and 38 percent of the world total.
Some vessels may not be measured according to the 1969 International Convention on tonnage Measurement of Ships.
The Icelandic data exclude undecked vessels.
The Japanese data refer to registered fishing boats operating in marine waters.
The Russian Federation data refer to powered decked vessels with a national licence.
Sources:
China: FAO fishery statistical inquiry.
Eu-15: Eurostat.
Iceland: Statistics Iceland (http://www.statice.is).
Japan: Japan Statistical Yearbook 2006 (http://www.stat.go.jp/english/data/nenkan/index.htm).
Republic of Korea: Korea Statistical Yearbook 2005, Vol. 52.
Norway: Statistics Norway (http://www.ssb.no) and Eurostat.
Russian Federation: FAO fishery statistical inquiry.

THE STATE OF WORLD FISHERIES AND AQUACULTURE 2006

Lloyd’s data also indicate that in some countries, when a vessel is replaced the old one is exported, with the result that their fishing fleets are generally composed of vessels with a relatively low age. this group of countries includes Japan, Norway and Spain.

Origins of the fleets

The Lloyd’s maritime information service database also contains data about where a fishing vessel was built. Most of the major fishing nations also have major shipbuilding industries that supply their fishing vessels to local and foreign fishing companies. Japan, Peru, the Russian Federation, Spain and the united States of America, all of which are prominent shipbuilders, built more than 60 percent of fishing vessels above 100 GT currently in operation.

Most fishing vessels (78 percent) in operation at the end of 2005 have not changed flag since being launched, and more than two-thirds of them were built in the country where they are registered. In Japan, Peru, Poland, Spain and the united States of America, domestic shipbuilders have supplied over 90 percent of the national fishing fleets. the data for the united States of America obviously reflect the provisions of the Jones Act, which effectively does not allow fishing vessels to be imported into the country. Peru is unique in that it has a substantial fleet (over 650 vessels), of which the great majority of vessels were built, and remain, in the country, with few being exported to other countries. this is believed to be because the fleet consists of specialized Peruvian purse-seiners, which are not in demand in surrounding countries. the Peruvian fleet also has a very high age profile: 70 percent of the vessels are now over 30 years old, which is the average age at which fishing vessels are scrapped.

Nevertheless, some countries depend on foreign boatyards for the supply of vessels above 100 GT. Honduras, Indonesia, Morocco, Panama and the Philippines have more than 200 operational fishing vessels above 100 GT in the Lloyd’s database, but most of them were built abroad. Figure 17 shows, by continent in which they are registered, where fishing vessels were built, also by continent. While the European countries, including the Russian Federation and Spain, provide the majority of fishing vessels in Europe and Africa, Asian countries, especially Japan, are the main suppliers of fishing vessels to other Asian and Pacific fishing fleets.

THE STATE OF WORLD FISHERIES AND AQUACULTURE 2006


  1. See, in particular, FAO. 2002. The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2002, Box 2, p. 9. rome.
  2. FAO. 1996. Chronicles of marine fishery landings (1950–1994): trend analysis and fisheries potential, by R.J.R. Grainger and S.M. Garcia. FAO Fisheries technical Paper No. 359. rome.
  3. Also includes amphibians (frogs and turtles). For brevity, referred to hereafter as “fish, crustaceans and molluscs” or “food fish supply”.
  4. FAO. FAOStAt (www.faostat.fao.org). Accessed 22 May 2006.
  5. The regions match those presented in the analysis outlined in FAO. 2006. State of world aquaculture 2006. FAO Fisheries technical Paper No. 500. rome.
  6. The culture of aquatic plants is not considered in the remainder of this section.
  7. While mussels and oysters are high-priced per kilogram of meat, they are relatively low-valued in terms of value per kilogram of whole animals, as shell weight can account for a large percentage of the total (live) weight. It should be noted that statistics on aquaculture production are reported as live weight.
  8. Here, brackish-water production is assigned to either marine areas or inland areas depending on the area reported by the country. thus, production in inland areas and marine areas represents the total of aquaculture production.
  9. A “maru-ship” is a Japanese ship operated partially by a non-Japanese crew.
  10. Occasional fishers are defined as individuals who derive less than 30 percent of total earnings, or who spend less than 30 percent of the total time worked, in fisheries; for part-time fishers these shares increase to between 30 and 89 percent, and for full-time fishers they are at least 90 percent.

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