About 38% (live weight equivalent) of all fish produced worldwide is traded internationally.
The value of fishery exports increased to over $71.5 billion in 2004, representing a 51% increase since 1994.
In 2004, China was the world’s major exporter of fish and fish products, with exports valued at US$6.6 billion. Norway with US$4.1 billion was the second largest exporter followed by Thailand (US$4.0 billion), the United States (US$3.9 billion), Denmark (US$3.6 billion), Canada (US$3.5 billion), Spain (US$2.6 billion), Chile (US$2.5 billion), the Netherlands (US$2.5 billion) and Viet Nam (US$2.4 billion).
Shrimp is the most important commodity with about 16.5% of international trade in value terms. Bottom-feeding (demersal) fish such as cod, hake, haddock and Alaska pollock are another important product group, with 10.2% of trade. Tuna is the third most important commodity, accounting for 8.7% of the global total. The profile of salmon as an export item has increased over the past years as a result of the booming salmon farming industry in Norway and Chile, representing 8.5% of international fish trade. In 2004, fishmeal represented around 3.3% of the value of exports and fish oil less than 1%.
Most developing countries still do not process the fish they catch before exporting it, and such raw exports earn less on international markets than processed or frozen fish products. In some cases this is due to tariff escalation by developed countries -- higher duties levied against imports of processed or frozen fish, a practice that hinders developing countries capacity to export value added products .
Other challenges facing developing countries include meeting the ever-more-stringent safety and quality standards imposed by developed countries. For resource-strapped countries finding the technical know-how or the financial resources needed to meet such standards is often difficult.
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