Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

Aquatic Genetic Resources

Aquatic genetic resources make vital contributions to global food security and provide important livelihood opportunities and income for many fishing and farming families and communities. The world’s wealth of aquatic genetic resources provides the aquaculture and fisheries sector with great potential to further enhance its contributions to food security and to meet the challenge of feeding a growing human population. It underpins the productivity and sustainability of global aquaculture and capture fisheries, and the essential services provided by aquatic ecosystems in marine, brackish and freshwaters.

However, despite estimates that project an increase in fish consumption of approximately 1.2 percent per annum up to 2030, the opportunities to meet this growing demand offered by aquatic genetic diversity remain largely unrealized and unexplored. The need for characterization, conservation and development of aquatic genetic resources is becoming increasingly urgent given the ever-growing pressures on the Earth’s aquatic ecosystems and habitats. As capture fisheries are reaching, and often extend beyond, the limits of their biological productivity, aquaculture is playing an increasingly important role in meeting the demand for aquatic food from an ever-increasing human population.

The work undertaken by FAO on aquatic genetic resources for food and agriculture aims to strengthen governance, improve management and technical capacities, promote sustainable use and development, and lead consensus-building towards improved management.

Key publications
It is estimated that there are over 160 000 species of fish and aquatic molluscs, crustaceans and plants.
694 aquatic species are reported to be farmed across the world.
All cultured aquatic species can still be found in the wild, but some are at risk.
While the number of aquatic species farmed constantly grows, ten species account for 50 percent of total aquaculture production.
In 2017, 34.2 percent of the fish stocks of the world’s marine fisheries were classified as overfished.