In both capture fisheries and aquaculture, a wide variety of technologies, from artisanal to highly-industrial, are involved in production and supply. These different technologies, which encompass vessels, equipment and culture systems, use a range of different types of energy and in varying amounts. Because of increased mechanization of fishing vessels and increased numbers of fishers, the intensification of aquaculture, and growth in processing, transport and retail distribution, fossil fuels have played an increasingly important role in fisheries production. 

The economic viability of the sector has become closely linked to fuel and energy prices and their indirect impacts on key inputs, such as aquaculture fertilizers and feeds. Most current production methods originated when resources were abundant, energy costs were dramatically lower and less attention was paid to operating efficiency and ecosystem impacts. The new realities of high energy prices and greater environmental awareness present major challenges for the future viability of the sector. This may be especially true in developing countries where access to and promotion of energy efficient technologies has been limited.

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Fisheries, energy and climate

At the twenty-ninth session of the Committee on Fisheries (COFI) in 2010, FAO reported that net greenhouse gas contributions of fisheries, aquaculture and their supply chains were poorly studied. The paucity of data on greenhouse gas emissions across fisheries and aquaculture supply chains severely hampers the development of strategies to address energy use. FAO also reported that the transition to energy-efficient and low carbon foot print aquatic food production systems would depend on a number of factors including: the development of standardized methodologies for energy and emissions calculations throughout the food chain; the collection of data using these methodologies; and the development of policy and technologies associated with energy use and greenhouse gas emission reductions.

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last updated:  Tuesday, January 15, 2013