Despite significant previous progress, the world is off track to end hunger and malnutrition in all its forms by 2030. Degraded ecosystems, an intensifying climate crisis, and increased biodiversity loss are threatening jobs, economies, the environment and food security around the globe, all aggravated by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, crises and other humanitarian emergencies. Today, 811 million people suffer from hunger and 3 billion cannot afford healthy diets.
This has elevated the calls to urgently transform our agrifood systems to ensure food security, improve nutrition and secure affordable healthy diets for a growing population, while safeguarding livelihoods and our natural resources.
Aquatic foods are increasingly recognized for their key role in food security and nutrition, not just as a source of protein, but also as a unique and extremely diverse provider of essential omega-3 fatty acids and bioavailable micronutrients. Prioritizing and better integrating fisheries and aquaculture products in global, regional and national food system strategies and policies should be a vital part of the necessary transformation of our agrifood systems.
The 2022 edition of The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture – Towards Blue Transformation – builds on this narrative by presenting quantitative evidence of the growing role of fisheries and aquaculture in providing food, nutrition and employment. In 2020, fisheries and aquaculture production reached an all-time record of 214 million tonnes, worth about USD 424 billion. Production of aquatic animals in 2020 was more than 60 percent higher than the average in the 1990s, considerably outpacing world population growth, largely due to increasing aquaculture production. We are eating more aquatic foods than ever – about 20.2 kg per capita in 2020 – more than double our consumption rate 50 years ago. Globally, aquatic foods provide about 17 percent of animal protein, reaching over 50 percent in several countries in Asia and Africa. The sector employs an estimated 58.5 million people in primary production alone – approximately 21 percent women.
This report also highlights further changes needed in the fisheries and aquaculture sector to address the challenges of feeding the world effectively, equitably and sustainably. Its subtitle, Towards Blue Transformation, reflects the acceleration required to achieve a sustainable, inclusive and efficient sector able to meet expectations, the urgent need to integrate sustainably harvested aquatic foods into national food system policies and programmes, and opportunities to contribute to restoring aquatic habitats and biodiversity.
The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2022 is underpinned by a significant policy context. First, the Declaration for Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture, unanimously endorsed in 2021 by the Thirty-fourth Session of the FAO Committee on Fisheries (COFI), concludes with a call to support “an evolving and positive vision for fisheries and aquaculture in the twenty-first century, where the sector is fully recognized for its contribution to fighting poverty, hunger and malnutrition.” Second, this 2022 edition coincides with the implementation of three relevant United Nations Decades, namely the Decade of Action to deliver the Global Goals, the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, and the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. Finally, the report is launched as we approach the middle of the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture 2022. The policy landscape could not be more ambitious and the moment more opportune to transform towards more efficient, more inclusive, more resilient and more sustainable aquatic food systems to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
Since its first edition in 1995, The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture has provided technical insight and evidence-based information on a sector crucial to societal success. It serves a wide audience – from policymakers, managers and scientists, to fishers and consumers – to demonstrate and enhance the vital role and contributions of fisheries and aquaculture to achieve better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life for all, leaving no one behind. I am confident that this edition will continue the tradition of making valuable contributions in helping us meet the challenges of the twenty-first century.