Aquatic biodiversity: underpinning aquatic food security

Aquatic Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

The growth of aquaculture and capture fisheries production relative to human population growth

Total global production of aquatic animals was 179 million tonnes in 2018 valued at over USD 400 billion, and is expected to rise to 201 million tonnes by 2030, and represents around 17 percent of all animal protein consumed. In addition, 33.3 million tonnes of aquatic plants were produced. Overall, aquatic food production from aquaculture now exceeds that from capture fisheries in both volume and value confirming the long-term transition from wild harvest to farming for many aquatic species. Aquatic food is the world’s most traded food commodity and the sector is estimated to directly employ over 180 million people and supports the livelihood of eight percent of the world's population. The increasing demand for fish and fish products generated by population growth and other factors is expected to be met primarily from aquaculture.

In 2018, FAO production reporting indicated that over 620 species items were produced in aquaculture and the number of farmed species is constantly growing. However, production is dominated by a small number of species including seaweeds, carps, tilapias, bivalve molluscs, shrimps and salmonids.

With the advent of modern molecular technologies there are an ever increasing array of technologies that can be applied to characterize and improve aquatic genetic resources (AqGR).Click to enlarge

There is insufficient monitoring and reporting of AqGR, especially below the level of species (i.e. farmed types and stocks), which can undermine efforts to manage these resources. Also harmonization and standardization of reporting procedures is lacking and terminology used describe AqGR is not standardized.

The future conservation, sustainable use and development of AqGR will depend on good national, regional and global information systems for the collection, validation and reporting on AqGR.