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The growing role of fish in feeding the world

People have never consumed so much fish or depended so greatly on the sector for their well-being as they do today

09 Jun 2014 - People have never consumed so much fish or depended so greatly on the sector for their well-being as they do today.

Did you know? 

  • Fish is one of the most-traded food commodities worldwide, worth almost US$130 billion in 2012 – a figure that will probably continue to increase.
  • World per capita apparent fish consumption increased from an average of 9.9 kg in the 1960s to 18.9 kg in 2010, with preliminary estimates for 2012 pointing towards further growth to 19.2 kg.
  • Of the 130.1 million tonnes available for human consumption in 2010, fish supply was lowest in Africa, while Asia accounted for two-thirds of the total, with 89.8 million tonnes (21.6 kg per capita), of which 45.4 million tonnes outside China (16.1 kg per capita).
  • China is, by far, the largest exporter of fish and fishery products. However, since 2011, it has become the world’s third-largest importing country, after the United States of America and Japan.
  • The European Union is the largest market for imported fish and fishery products, and its dependence on imports is growing.
  • On average, the daily dietary contribution of fish is rather low in terms of calories, at about 33 calories per capita.
  • Fish and fishery products represent a valuable source of animal protein, as a portion of 150 g of fish provides about 50–60 percent of the daily protein requirements for an adult.
  • About 25 million tonnes of seaweeds and other algae are harvested annually for use as food, in cosmetics and fertilizers, and are processed to extract thickening agents or used as an additive to animal feed.

With a few exceptions for selected species, fish is usually low in saturated fats, carbohydrates and cholesterol. It provides not only high-value protein, but also a wide range of essential micronutrients, including various vitamins (D, A and B), minerals (including calcium, iodine, zinc, iron and selenium) and polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids.

Check out our latest infographics to learn more.

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