GLOBEFISH - Information and Analysis on World Fish Trade

Global production expected to expand by 2.3% in 2017


The report analyses the market situation until October 2017

According to the latest forecasts, global production of fish and fishery products is expected to expand by 2.3 percent in 2017, a slightly faster growth rate than last year.

This acceleration is primarily accounted for by a recovery in catches of anchoveta in South America following the end of El Niño, while world aquaculture production continues to rise at some 4–5 percent a year. Despite higher production, however, the demand stimulus resulting from improving economic conditions globally has lifted prices for many important seafood commodities. In particular, income growth in developing country markets in Latin America and Asia continues to strengthen consumer appetite for seafood, boosting import volumes in addition to absorbing a higher proportion of domestic production.

With increasing supply and high price levels worldwide, the total value of world seafood exports is expected to rise by some 8 percent this year in US dollar terms, building on a similar increase in 2016. Overall, the FAO Fish Price Index was 10 points higher in August 2017, the most recent available month, with all commodity groups higher than the same month in 2016. Higher prices for salmon, shrimp, tuna, cod, cephalopods and some small pelagic species have boosted export revenues for many large producers. In particular, India has seen the value of its seafood exports rise substantially due to its position as an increasingly important shrimp producer, while improved shrimp and tuna prices have also benefitted a number of Central and South American countries. Meanwhile, Norway, Chile and the United Kingdom continue to reap the rewards of the tight global salmon supply. On the market side, the most important individual contributors to trade value growth are China, the United States of America, the EU28 and Japan. The economic revival of Brazil and the Russian Federation, two large emerging markets, will represent an additional boost to aggregate seafood demand if it continues into 2018 and beyond. Both countries, as well as the slightly smaller economy of Argentina, have seen seafood demand depressed by recession over the last couple of years, and their return to a positive growth trajectory is a significant factor behind trade value growth in 2017.

Projections published in the OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2017–2026 are for accelerating world gross domestic production (GDP) growth in 2017 and 2018 after years of sluggish economic performance in multiple world regions, which is a positive development for the seafood sector. This growth is not evenly distributed geographically, however, with steady but slow economic expansion in the EU28 and Japan contrasted with more robust economic performance in the United States of America and rapid growth in developing regions, particularly Asia. Seafood demand is highly sensitive to increases in income, and thus it is these economic trends, combined with population growth rates, that will be the major determinants of future trade flows and consumption patterns. While Latin America and Africa are increasing their shares of the world market relative to the United States of America, EU28 and Japan, it is the rapid transformation of large sections of the Asian population into urbanized, middle-class consumers that will be the most important single factor in shaping the global seafood market for some time to come. In 2018, although increased supply is expected for a number of major commodity groups such as small pelagics and salmon, the relatively faster growth of global demand and supply tightening for other species categories such as groundfish should prevent a major decline of aggregate seafood prices.

International cooperation in protecting the longterm health of our marine environments remains a priority. At the 11th World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial taking place in Buenos Aires on 10-13 December this year, discussions will continue between participants regarding the need to limit fisheries subsidies. An agreement between members that addresses the issue of overcapacity and overfishing resulting from such subsidy schemes is considered an essential component of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14, which concerns the wellbeing of the world’s oceans. Another crucially important aspect of SDG 14 is climate change and how to mitigate its negative effects on fisheries and other marine-based resources, which was the topic of central focus at the VI edition of the CONXEMAR - FAO World Congress that was hosted in Vigo, Spain on 2 October.


Share this page