1.1 Brief on the Historical Development of Fish Production and Utilization
1.2 Brief Situation on World Fisheries Resources and Captures
1.3 Brief Situation on Current World Fish Utilization and Marketing
1.4 Fish Technology, Economic Engineering and the Future

For those outside the fishery industry, and sometimes even for those conversant with it, the endeavour of fish production, utilization and marketing often appears rather strange, difficult to understand and generally obscure. This is partly due to the intrinsic complexity of fisheries that embraces the latest technology to obtain food from the wild, to the use of satellites, electronic equipment, robots and bioengineering. It is also partly due to the large number of fish species marketed (e.g., it is reported that in the US market more than 700 different commercial species can be found), which makes fish a very different protein source from, for instance, meat and chicken.

Part of the complexity stems from the large number of products available (e.g., a fish market is more segmented than meat or poultry markets, and segmented in a different way), processes and their variations, and catching methods ranging from beach nets and canoes to high-tech factory trawlers. The complexity at local, regional and international levels is also related to deep historical and cultural reasons, without which consumption habits (and hence market demand), ad hoc laws and regulations, fishermen's behaviour, political moves and the commoner's position regarding fish and fisheries are very difficult to understand. Whereas in some industries (e.g., electronics) history and culture are practically irrelevant to their economics, in fisheries they usually play an important part although very often overlooked or taken for granted.

Although an in-depth review of this complexity is outside the scope of this manual, it was decided to include a brief description of the past, present and probable future of the fishery industry. This chapter should be read mainly as a caution in that the methods of economic engineering to be analysed in the rest of the manual, cannot usually be applied instantly and require a consistent knowledge of the past and present of the specific fishery industry and intended markets, as well as an educated guess about the future.

1.1 Brief on the Historical Development of Fish Production and Utilization

Since prehistory, fish has been caught and eaten first by hominids (Australopithicus and Homo erectus) and then by men (Homo sapiens) (Stewart, 1994). There is enough archaeological evidence that men were already catching fish in the Lower Palaeolithic Age, more than 100 000 years ago, and the earliest record of fish as food for Homo sapiens is 380 000 years old. In more recent prehistoric times, there is plenty of evidence that European populations habitually utilized fish as food, salmon being one of the most widely consumed fish, and some Amerindian and African populations were known shellfish gatherers (Toussaint-Samat, 1992).

Fish was appreciated by ancient Egyptian and Chinese civilizations. The first recorded recipe (a fish salad based on marinated and spiced carp) is from ancient China dated 1300 B.C. The ancient Romans' passion for fish is very well known; the highest recorded price for an auctioned fish (two live red mullets) ever paid (20 000 sestertii, about US$ 24 000 today) has not yet been surpassed (Toussaint-Samat, 1992). Fresh fish has always been preferred. The Chinese have been trading live fish for over 3 000 years. In the Roman Empire, the best quality fish was also kept, transported and sold live (in particular eels and lampreys). There is evidence that the Chinese utilized natural ice to keep fresh fish about 1000 B.C.. Ancient Romans also used ice mixed with seaweed to keep fresh fish (they transported ice from the mountains near Rome).

Fish drying, smoking and salting were used to cure fish from very ancient times in different cultures. Fish salting and fish fermentation were already a flourishing integrated industry almost in contemporary terms (capture, farming, processing, packaging, transport and distribution) in the Roman Empire about 100 B.C. (McCann, 1988). Curing techniques have been revised and refined several times during the history of mankind and are still widely used. It is reported that salting herring onboard was introduced by the Dutch in the fourteenth century. This allowed longer fishing trips and reduced post-harvest losses, improving the production and economics of salted herring. Likewise, in the twentieth century, freezing trawlers and factory vessels were introduced to freeze and process fish onboard.

Fish farming became an affirmed technology in China between 2000 and 1500 B.C. and has never ceased to be a source of food. The first treaty on carp culture was written around 475 B.C. by a Chinese named Fan Li (Toussaint-Samat, 1992). This contains useful advice on design, construction, harvesting and economic management of fish ponds (Kreuzer, 1974).

Aquaculture in Italy can be traced back to the fifth-sixth century B.C., when the Etruscans developed it in coastal lagoons of the Tyrrhenian Sea (Mediterranean). Near the Port of Cosa, they performed impressive engineering works, cutting a channel in the rock (tagliata di Ansedonia) for the hydraulic management of a lagoon of between 500 and 1000 ha (Ardizzone et al., 1988). Later, the ancient Romans, as demonstrated by archaeological studies (McCann, 1988) developed in the same place, about 100 B.C.1 a sophisticated brackishwater aquaculture complex, integrating it with fish processing, packaging, and shipment of final products to many places in the Mediterranean basin. This complex also included seasonal coastal fishing of species like mackerel and tuna. The remainder of the Etruscan coastal lagoon of Cosa, the Burano lagoon (140 ha), is still exploited. The inhabitants of Cosa incorporated at a later stage the exploitation of the Orbetello lagoon (2 700 ha), one of the early examples of efficient fisheries management of coastal lagoons (Ardizzone et al., 1988). The aquaculture activities in this area have been and still are integrated with marine fisheries (Porto Santo Stefano). The case of Cosa, as many other examples that can be found, particularly in the Mediterranean, China and Japan, testimony the tight relationship between self-sustained fishery activities, social and cultural aspects and environment.

There is also enough historical evidence that aquaculture in Europe continued to be an important source of protein for almost a thousand years after the collapse of the Roman Empire. Fish production in Europe was always a mixture of cultured and wild fish from marine and inland water sources (Montanari, 1993). A traveller at the beginning of the eighteenth century observed that fish consumption in Poland consisted of salted herring (imported from the Netherlands and Scotland), salted-dried cod, marine fish from the Baltic Sea (coastal populations) and farmed fish in the hinterland (Salmon, 1735). Fish consumption has been affected positively and negatively by religions, taboos, political decisions and beliefs throughout history, which in turn have affected fish production and marketing.

Fish consumption during the Middle Ages in Europe was promoted by the Catholic Church which ordered 166 days of fasting a year (including 40 days of strict fasting for Lent) during which fish could be eaten. This situation was usually reinforced by rulers; for instance, Charlemagne ordered that all his farms have fish ponds. Alternatively, the Reformation in England (involving changes in fasting) reduced the number of fishing vessels, severely affected freshwater fisheries (Montanari, 1993), and nearly abolished aquaculture (Kreuzer, 1974). As discussed later, this situation was to change again in the seventeenth century with the development of the herring fishery.

The importance of aquaculture in Europe declined for many reasons which varied from country to country; aquaculture collapsed in Germany during the Thirty Years' War (1618-38) and did not recover until the end of the nineteenth century (Kreuzer, 1974). The development of marine fisheries during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries reduced even further the relative contribution of aquaculture; a change mainly due to the large yield of marine captures in respect of investment, and the worldwide development of markets for certain types of salted fish (that allowed for storage and transport).

The importance of marine fishery captures, particularly cod and herring, increased in Europe from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, particularly in the northern countries. The fourteenth century was a period of famine in Europe and probably obliged coastal populations to increase the pressure on marine fishery resources. As Montanari (1993) points out the plague that devastated Europe between 1347 and 1351 affected the coastal populations that consumed fish as a source of protein and lipids (energy) far less than the inland populations which were stressed and prone to illness due to starvation.

During the thirteenth century, herring shifted its spawning migrations from the North Sea to the Baltic Sea. It gave the Hanseatic League the possibility of developing the largest fishery industry of the time, replacing Denmark which had previously exploited this resource (not without war). This situation lasted until the sixteenth century when herring returned to spawn again in the North Sea and this time the Netherlands grasped the opportunity to develop as a major fishing country (Kreuzer, 1974).

This return of the herring to the North Sea also triggered off the development of the Scottish herring fishery during the seventeenth century. By the second half of the seventeenth century salted fish was one of the main British exports to Europe. In the period January March 1665 at the port of Leghorn [Livorno] (then Great Duchy of Tuscany) 9 020 barrels of salted herring were unloaded (including 220 of "white" salted herring), 345 barrels of salted salmon and 500 small barrels of salted pressed sardine (saracche or salachi) transported from Britain, and comprising almost the total cargo of eleven vessels (Cipolla, 1992). It could be presumed that the access to markets for salted herring was a main cause for friction between Britain and the Netherlands at that time.

Fishing rights were very often part of peace treaties between European countries. The Treaty of Utrech (1713), although recognizing, in principle, to Spanish fishermen (mainly Basques), the right to fish for cod and whales off Newfoundland (the Basques had been fishing there since before 1550), in practice it deprived them such a right. This forced the Spaniards to look for alternatives, for instance, to increase fishing and salting sardine off Galicia and to increase fishery imports. As one of the measures to tackle the lack of fish the Spanish King Charles IV founded, in 1789, a fishing company based in Puerto Deseado (Patagonia, now Argentina) with the purpose of fishing and salting. The Spaniards returned to fish off Newfoundland only in 1921 (Lopez Capont, 1986). The development of this conflict is still making news (1995).

By the early nineteenth century, new methods were needed to extend the shelf-life of fish and fishery products. Canning of fish and meat were invented by the Frenchman, Appert (procedure published 1810) as a means of supplying food to Napoleon's army.

The effect of low temperature on the keeping time and quality of fresh fish was known throughout the ages. "Weather freezing" is a method applied since time immemorial by Eskimos; it consists in leaving fish outside in windy conditions of subfreezing temperatures and was probably the start of the modern fish-freezing industry. There are records that indicate that "weather freezing" was carried out in the region of the Great Lakes (USA and Canada) early in the nineteenth century and the method was still applied there in the 1960s (Tressler et al., 1968). It was not until the development of mechanical refrigeration in the nineteenth century that ice and cold facilities became readily available. The French engineer, F. Carré, constructed the first ice-block machine, presented at the Great Exhibition of London in 1859.

In 1877 the first cargo of mutton, using mechanical refrigeration, was transported from France to Buenos Aires (Argentina) onboard the vessel "Le Frigorifique", mainly to demonstrate that intercontinental transport of frozen foods was feasible. The Argentineans, with the assistance of Carré, fitted out a second vessel "Paraguay" and started to transport frozen meat to Europe (Toussaint-Samat, 1992).

The Americans were the first to realize the potential market possibilities of frozen fish, and by 1865 they started to freeze fish by putting it in pans surrounded by ice and salt. Around 1880 ammonia refrigeration machines had begun to be utilized and by the end of the nineteenth century fish freezing was an important industry in the USA which had started to export frozen salmon to Europe. At that time, fish was being frozen in Europe, but in smaller quantities than in the USA (Tressler et al., 1968). The initial quality of frozen fishery products was very poor and the process not well understood (Burgess, 1974). In 1929, an American, Clarence Birdseye, decided to return to the source and find out why Eskimo frozen fish ("weather freezing") was of much better quality than mechanical frozen fish. After spending time with the Eskimos of Labrador, he found that the secret was in the freezing speed; in the USA he developed the first plate and double-belt freezers and initiated the era of "quick freezing" (Toussaint-Samat, 1992).

After the development of the herring and cod fisheries, most of the marine fish consumed in Europe came from sailing boats, like the trawling smacks that drifted downwind with beam trawls. Steam propulsion was introduced in European fishing boats towards the end of the nineteenth century and these mechanized boats replaced sailing fishing boats. Internal combustion engines (Diesel) were introduced in European fisheries at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and completely replaced steam propulsion by the 1960s. After the second world war, fishing boats in Europe started to introduce echo-sounders and echo-ranging to detect fish, and these methods were taken up by industrial fishing fleets all over the world. The first full-scale factory stern trawler, "Fairtry", was constructed in 1953 in Aberdeen, Scotland. It incorporated plate freezers and a combination of plate and blast freezers. Following years of research and development at Torry Research Station, Aberdeen, Scotland, in 1961 commercial vertical plate freezers were installed for the first time onboard the stern trawler "Lord Nelson". Since then there has been a rapid development of fish processing and freezing at sea.

Two important developments during the 1950s and 1960s that enhanced the advantage of mechanization of fishing vessels were the introduction of synthetic fibre in net construction, and the rational design of fishing nets. These developments revamped old fishing methods like trawling, gillnetting and longlining and dramatically increased the catches. However, this development was not conducted pari passu with proper management of existing resources and led to significant overexploitation and economic losses being incurred by the world fisheries. These losses have resulted from fleet overcapacity and overinvestment; it is estimated that 46% of the landed value of total world catches were required as return on capital invested in the fleet and this was disproportionately high (FAO, 1995).

The problems of quality and adulteration of food became apparent during the late part nineteenth century, both in Europe and the USA, and the lack of scientific and technical information regarding food, in particular fish, became clear. Problems of food wastage observed during the first world war (Burgess, 1974), and probably the growing problems associated with the food provision to larger urban populations, convinced Governments to create ad hoc research and development institutions. The first research institute dealing with fish technology was set up in Norway in 1892.

Freezing and the possibility of developing reliable cold chains lead to the introduction of a large number of products in fish markets in developed countries, particularly after the second world war. Among these were products which made the specific fish species less important and introduced the concept of prepared and semi-prepared products such as fishfingers, fish-sticks, fish-burgers and fish-pastes.

There are many type of fish-pastes. However, the type that has taken the lead is that originally known as "kamaboko" in Japan. "Kamaboko" and derived products were a traditional fishery product mainly consumed in Japan but also known in China and other Asian countries. It was originally produced artisanally from a few fresh fish; in 1960 the Japanese started to produce kamaboko from frozen kneaded fish flesh from Alaska pollack and mechanized the whole production process. Production of kamaboko and kamaboko-based products escalated in Japan during the 1970s, the technology began to spread and was utilized in the rest of the world. In or around 1975 in Japan, and later in other developed countries, kamaboko began to be utilized for the production of analogs (e.g., king crab legs analog), and opened up the possibility of utilization of the less exploited species and potentially the reduction of the post-harvest losses.

This brief introduction to the historical development of fish production and utilization was included in the manual mainly to give an idea of the medium and long-term dynamic conditions of fisheries. Analysis of long-and medium-term fishery aspects are important in several ways. Apart from the socio-economic considerations (e.g., fish consumption habits and historical rights" that fishermen very often claim to have), there are other important implications when studying investment and sustainability.

For instance, it is clear that there has been, since the second half of the nineteenth century, a constant reduction in the successive "short-term" horizons of the fishery industry, as a result of the introduction of technical and scientific innovations, and market changes. It is extremely important for developing countries to understand this reduction of the "short-term" fishery industry structure (or technology) in order to achieve self-sustainability and not waste investment. The reduction in the "short-term" horizons makes it necessary to consider the medium and long-term horizons for proper self-sustained development.

1.2 Brief Situation on World Fisheries Resources and Captures

At present the total world catch of fish amounts to about 98 million t (1992) of which 82.5 million t are marine fish and 15.5 million t freshwater fish, including aquaculture. Between 1984 and 1989, landings of marine fish increased from 74 million to 86 million t (17% increase) while corresponding figures for those in inland waters were 10 million t and 14 million t (38% increase). Following the peak in 1989 marine catches decreased in 1992 by 4% while catches from inland waters continued to grow, increasing by 10% in the same year. In the 1980s, the increase in catches of marine species was due mostly to a notable increase in North and South Pacific catches, which increased by more than 17 million t between 1981 and 1989.

A sustained increase in landings cannot be expected in the future and a decrease in catches could occur in regions which are overfishing. For instance, the North and Central Atlantic regions recorded an almost constant catch in the period 1985-89 (yearly variations less than 1.8% of the average), but catches dropped significantly in 1990 and 1991 (with variations of 5.63 and 6.85% respectively, compared to average catches in 1985-89).

The type of species caught is also very important since it is market-dependent, i.e., it depends on the type of fish that consumers want to buy. Thirteen percent of the total catch is white fish, such as cod, hake, Alaska pollack and haddock. Popular species, e.g., sole in Europe, only represent 1.5% of the total catch. The catch level of sole is more or less steady. However sole-like species of commercial size are discarded as by-catch in some Caribbean shrimp fisheries. They are not appreciated by local consumers, fetch very low prices, and often are even named disrespectfully ("chatarra" in Costa Rica, and "tapaculo" in Cuba). This type of resource may gradually be incorporated into the market, thanks to improved technical knowledge and marketing. Such development is necessary to reduce discarded shrimp by-catch.

The bulk of the world fish catch (some 30%) is made up of small pelagics of relatively small size, with a high lipid content, and which deteriorate quite rapidly. Tuna, bonito, mackerel and snoek, which are especially fatty species but larger and in greater demand commercially, represent 9% of the catch. Pelagic species, especially small-sized ones, are largely affected by environmental factors. This results in catches varying progressively from year to year. In Chile and Peru, the bulk of the small pelagics is used for fishmeal production.

There is sufficient evidence of overfishing throughout the world. In 1993, fishing in the Grand Banks off Canada was closed due to overfishing. Canada recorded landings from the Grand Banks at about 1.15 million t in 1991 alone (O'Riordan, 1994). The Grand Banks, one of the world's richest fishing grounds, have been exploited almost continuously during the last 500 years (or even before if it is true that the Basque fisherman exploited Canadian fishing grounds before the arrival of Columbus in America).

The collapse of the Grand Banks fishery put between 40 000 and 50 000 Canadian fishermen and plant workers out of business, the largest lay-off in Canadian history (Anon., 1995; Swardson, 1995). It also affected local and international fish markets, triggering species substitution both at consumer and industry levels. An example which illustrates this well is that of MacDonalds' fish-burgers, half of which were made out of Grand Banks' cod; today, MacDonalds' has switched to Alaska pollack (Anon., 1994). The case of the Grand Banks will probably become a classic example of overfishing and its consequences; it underlines the fact that the risk of overfishing cannot be ignored.

Overfishing may not be the only cause of the decrease in catches; natural phenomena like "El Niño", environmental changes and long-term biological cycles, play important roles in some regions, affecting average landings significantly. Nevertheless, during the last seven years, landings have shown an overall tendency to stabilize. The fishery industry is thus entering a period where adequate management of fishery resources is unavoidable. Development, except in particular cases and in aquaculture, cannot be based on increased catches.

1.3 Brief Situation of Current World Fish Utilization and Marketing

Seventy-two % of the total fish catch is used for direct human consumption. Almost all the remainder (26%) is used for the production of fishmeal (used for feeding farm animals) and oil. Thirty-one % of all fish for human consumption is eaten fresh and 35 % is frozen. Another 16% is processed as cured fish (dried, salted, smoked) and 18 % as canned fish. Thus, 31% is consumed within the first two weeks after capture and 69% preserved in some form or other for later consumption.

Thirty-nine % of the total catch is marketed at the international level, with US$ 37 400 million's worth being traded in 199 1. Developing countries play an active part in this trade, and for some of them, Mozambique and Cape Verde for example, fishery exports constitute the main source of non-aid income.

Discards and post-harvest losses of fish are very high. A recent estimate puts total by catch and discards to between 17.9 and 39.5 million t (average 27 million) per year (Alverson et al., 1994), this means in average about the 30% of the total world catches. Greatest losses are found in the selective fisheries, such as shrimp, where it is not unusual to find a fish by-catch/shrimp ratio of 5:1 or more. Some countries like Cuba make an effort to recover and utilize all the shrimp by-catch, others (e.g., Costa Rica) recover most of the market valuable species. However, in many countries, all fish caught in shrimp nets are discarded.

Other losses occur as a result of flaws in the handling, storage, distribution and processing of fish, and in marketing techniques. The real level of losses is a very controversial issue, in part due to the difficulties in defining losses and measuring them accordingly. Nevertheless, all parties involved recognize that losses exist and must be reduced. The study of losses should be done on a case-by-case basis, and is a key step for improvement. In these circumstances, fish processing will have to focus on reduction of failure costs, in particular reduction of post-harvest losses, clean production (reduction of wastage), and product improvement in terms of quality and convenience to consumers.

1.4 Fish Technology, Economic Engineering and the Future

Fish technology, as a discipline, will continue to play an important role in fishery development. A dramatic change is taking place in the design, operation and management of fishery industries, due to the simultaneous introduction of quality assurance and management concepts, new machinery and electronics, a shift from manual to computerized supervisory control and use of robots, that utilize vision technology. The entire fishery industry will surely change during the next few decades: some of such "twenty-first century fishery industries" already exist for instance in Canada, Denmark and Iceland.

Due to this evolution, the relationship between technology and economics is growing and will become even more important in the future. For instance, the daily monitoring of production economics was introduced in some Scandinavian fishery industries around 1975, computerized production control around 1982, and it is expected that on-line simulation for product management will be introduced in leading fishery industries around 1995 (Valdimarsson, 1992). Such development is impossible without a close relationship between fish technology and economics. This relationship greatly exceeds the classic one existing between both areas and currently utilized in investment studies, since more specific and hence more reliable parameters (e.g., yields, time, temperature, process dynamics) are necessary.

As development aims to increase profits and quality, and simultaneously reduce post-harvest losses and energy consumption, the fishery industry of developing countries will likely have to follow suit in order to avoid being forced out of the markets. There are fishery industries, particulary in Southeast Asia (e.g., Thailand and Malaysia), that have initiated such evolution with apparent success. Evolution of aquaculture and small-scale fisheries will impose additional challenges to fish technologists, all of them linked to economics.

Fish as food is, like any product, dependent on supply and demand, but people, particularly in developing countries, often tend to be more production- (supply) oriented than demand- (marketing) oriented and this can lead to bad investment and consequent losses.

As discussed in the historical review, salted herring and salted dried cod were an unchanged market in Europe for many centuries, until the Americans started to produce frozen fish during the second part of the nineteenth century and ice was widely introduced to chill fish. Since then, several changes due to the introduction of new technologies (including management) or simply market developments have followed, and the European fish market has today very little in common with that of the mid-nineteenth century. Despite the visible and relatively quick changes in the markets, those in the fishery industry of developing countries (and sometimes in developed countries) very often tend to think in a rather static and conservative fashion which leads to crises and economic losses.

Chaston (1983) presents a good example of the development and crisis of the South American hake industry (aggravated since then) due to lack of proper marketing information and perspective. Another very interesting example is the fall of the Portuguese fish canning industry, once one of the most important in the world, due to a lack of both technical development and adequate marketing development.

Recent market studies (for instance Social Trends in UK, 1989, and Salmon, 1990) indicate that a number of changes regarding demand can be expected in the main food and fish markets in the coming years. These expected changes can be summarized as follows:

  1. The average consumer, particularly in developed countries, will be older (shifting from 38 to 48 years old in USA around the year 2000). The consumer will thus be more conscious and concerned about safety, quality and nutritional aspects. This tendency to healthier fishery products will also follow in developing countries, probably first in some Latin American and Asiatic countries (including China).

  2. People will tend to eat out more often. This is due, e.g., to the increase in leisure activities and the increase in the number of working women as well as to the fact that most people in large cities eat lunch outside the home on working days. This implies that institutional and catering markets will increase and products will have to be adapted to these markets (e.g., size and weight, type of preparation). This tendency is noted in large cities in developing countries (Mexico City, Shanghai, Sao Paulo and Lagos) where millions of people no longer return home for lunch.

  3. The number of women working away from home will increase. In Europe, more than 50% women of active age work. This means that they have less time to cook and to purchase food, and need more prepared and semi-prepared frozen dishes (value-added products). The number of deep-freezers and microwave ovens at home is increasing both in developed and developing countries, and the frozen fish market will probably develop even further.

  4. People in developed countries now spend relatively less of their income on food than previously, but they demand better quality food and service than before. In developing countries in general, food prices are rising and people expect better quality and service than before. This implies that rational use of resources and wise management are becoming essential in the food industry in general and in fishery industry in particular.

Levelling or reducing available fishery resources will not necessarily increase fish prices because some consumers, and particularly those from the institutional and catering markets, can easily shift to alternative products. Considering all the tendencies, it seems that the fish market will become more segmented and diversified in the future. The fishery industry will have to adapt to this tendency and respond to demand.

Large fishery industries producing commodities or utilizing a single or very few species, or producing a single or very few products with low value added, will become increasingly exposed to unforeseen market changes as happened to the Latin American hake industry. An increased proportion of fish landings will shift in the near future from the commodities area to value-added products. The tendency towards value-added (sometimes called convenience) products will be compounded by the growing urbanization in both developed and developing countries. All the current changes in the market place, challenge existing situations. At the same time, they create business opportunities for those who know the market and are in a position to use the right technology and management.

Development of fresh fish, and to some extent frozen fish markets and products, depends on supply, and in particular on the relative contribution of reared and wild fish.

Aquaculture is a dynamic sector. It has not yet reached its full potential, mostly due to the comparatively high costs of fish culture. In the last decade, improvements have been noted, especially in the culture of highly valued commercial species such as shrimp (Far East and Latin America) and fish such as salmon, seabream and turbot. The crisis of the salmon industry (1991), when prices of fresh farmed salmon dropped in some countries to the level of sardine and anchovy prices, was a clear signal of the marketing and economic constraints that aquaculture products still face in most of the world. Salmon it is not the only case, and reared seabream could hardly reach today (1995) half of the price it could obtain some 4-5 years ago, before the expansion of the aquaculture of this species. Also, the increase in aquaculture production of shrimp has shown that after a certain level of production, prices tend to fall. At the moment, aquaculture is still far from constituting an economic source of protein for people, despite the fact that countries like China have achieved impressive results.

Aquaculture will continue to develop, and will draw on other areas of knowledge, in addition to biology, in order to produce comparatively low priced products. There are still problems which might hinder its development and which must be resolved; these include fish food, intrinsic quality and organization of production, in order to achieve greater output levels. Some countries, with appropriate coast, weather and access to relatively cheap feed and energy will have advantages, e.g., the situation of Chile regarding reared salmon.

There are many factors that can affect the evolution of fisheries and aquaculture. An increase in the cost of petrol, with the resulting increase in the cost of fuel, could make the costs of aquaculture more competitive with respect to captured fish, although an increase in fuel cost will also affect the feed costs. The cost of fuel could, in the future, hinder long-range fishing and certain fisheries with a high fuel consumption. A massive, continuous, and intelligent publicity campaign could increase the market for the reared species (e.g., salmon) to overcome current market limitations.

It seems that despite the potential development of aquaculture, there will always exist a market for wild fish, to satisfy market requirements for species diversity, local and traditional foods, gourmet dishes, etc.

Cured and canned products will continue to play an important market role, especially in developing countries where refrigeration facilities, necessary for the distribution of fresh and frozen fish, do not exist. The situation will undoubtedly change where there is a tangible increase in the standard of living. International trade will continue to be very active, as demand will still not be satisfied in various regions of the world, especially in Asia, and probably in Western and Eastern Europe. The lack of conventional fish species will encourage the appearance of new products with more value added and probably the quantity of fish destined for reduction into fishmeal will decline. As already discussed, in view of the large volume of discards and by-catch losses, effort will be made to reduce them (e.g., through selective fish gear), and to utilize those that cannot be avoided.

Prediction is not a safe domain, and any prediction based on extrapolation of the current situation, or in analogies (e.g., development of aquaculture following the pattern of agriculture and husbandry) may not necessarily prove correct. The authors basically agree with the late Sir Karl Popper (1989, 1994) that there is no possibility to attain historical prediction identifying "rhythms", "trends", "patterns" or "historical laws", and that the future is basically open. Man can learn from the past if he is prepared to learn from his own mistakes, and in particular to improve a given situation if he can identify which type of activity is the result of a rational and conscious design, and which is the undesigned result of human actions (Popper, 1989).

The FAO 1995 publication, "The state of world fisheries and aquaculture", analyses the current situation of world fisheries and aquaculture, and draws a possible scenario to cover future world fish demand up to the year 2010.