SOFIA 2018 - State of Fisheries and Aquaculture in the world 2018
"Since 1961 the annual global growth in fish consumption has been twice as high as population growth, demonstrating that the fisheries and aquaculture sector is crucial in meeting FAO’s goal of a world without hunger and malnutrition"
José Graziano da Silva, FAO Director-General

The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2018 presents FAO’s official world fishery and aquaculture statistics. Global fish production* peaked at about 171 million tonnes in 2016, with aquaculture representing 47 percent of the total and 53 percent, if non-food uses (including reduction to fishmeal and fish oil) are excluded. With capture fishery production relatively static since the late 1980s, aquaculture has been responsible for the continuing impressive growth in the supply of fish for human consumption.

*Unless otherwise specified, throughout this publication, the term "fish" indicates fish, crustaceans, molluscs and other aquatic animals, but excludes aquatic mammals, crocodiles, caimans, seaweeds and other aquatic plants.

link FIGURE 1

World capture fisheries and aquaculture production

  • Capture production
  • Aquaculture production

NOTE: Excludes aquatic mammals, crocodiles,
alligators and caimans, seaweeds and other aquatic plants

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In 2016, 88 percent of the total fish production (151 million out of 171 million tonnes) was for direct human consumption. This share has increased significantly in recent decades, as it was 67 percent in the 1960s. In fact annual growth rate of food fish consumption has surpassed that of meat consumption from all terrestrial animals, combined.

link TABLE 1

World fisheries and aquaculture production and utilization (million tonnes)a

Category 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Inland 10.7 11.2 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.6
Marine 81.5 78.4 79.4 79.9 81.2 79.3
Total Capture 92.2 89.5 90.6 91.2 92.7 90.9
Inland 38.6 42.0 44.8 46.9 48.6 51.4
Marine 23.2 24.4 25.4 26.8 27.5 28.7
Total Aquaculture 61.8 66.4 70.2 73.7 76.1 80.0
+ Total world fisheries and aquaculture 154.0 156.0 160.7 164.9 168.7 170.9
Human consumption 130.0 136.4 140.1 144.8 148.4 151.2
Non-food uses 24.0 19.6 20.6 20.0 20.3 19.7
Population (billions)c 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.3 7.4
Per capita apparent consumption (kg) 18.5 19.2 19.5 19.9 20.2 20.3
  • Capture production
  • Aquaculture production

a Excludes aquatic mammals, crocodiles, alligators and caimans, seaweeds and other aquatic plants.
b Utilization data for 2014–2016 are provisional estimates.
c Source of population figures: UN, 2015e.

China is the world’s top fish producer by far, and since 2002 has also been the largest exporter of fish and fish products.

Capture fisheries production

Global total capture fisheries production was 90.9 million tonnes in 2016, a small decrease in comparison to the two previous years. World total marine catch was 81.2 million tonnes in 2015 and 79.3 million tonnes in 2016. Catches of anchoveta (Engraulis ringens) by Peru and Chile, which are often substantial yet highly variable because of the influence of El Niño, accounted for 1.1 million tonnes of this decrease (Tables 2 and 3). Decreasing catches affected 64 percent of the 25 top producer countries (China, Indonesia, United States of America, Russian Federation, Peru, India, Japan, Viet Nam, Norway, Philippines, Malaysia, Chile, Morocco, Republic of Korea, Thailand, Mexico, Myanmar, Iceland, Spain, Canada, Taiwan, Province of China, Argentina, Ecuador, United Kingdom, Denmark ), but only 37 percent of the remaining 170 countries.

Total marine catches by China, the world’s top producer by far, were stable in 2016, but the inclusion of a progressive catch reduction policy in the national Thirteenth Five-Year Plan for 2016–2020 is expected to result in significant decreases in coming years, with a predicted reduction of more than 5 million tonnes by 2020. As in 2014, Alaska pollock (Theragra chalcogramma) again surpassed anchoveta as the top species in 2016, with the highest catches since 1998. However, preliminary data for 2017 showed a significant recovery of anchoveta catches. Skipjack tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis) ranked third for the seventh consecutive year. All the most valuable species groups with significant production – lobsters, gastropods, crabs and shrimps, with an estimated average value by group of USD 8 800 to USD 3 800 per tonne – marked a new catch record in 2016.

Total global catch in inland waters was 11.6 million tonnes in 2016, an increase of 2.0 percent over the previous year and of 10.5 percent in comparison to the 2005–2014 average. In 2016, 16 countries, mostly in Asia, produced almost 80 percent of these catches. The continuously increasing trend of inland fisheries production may be misleading, however, as some of the increase can be attributed to improved reporting and assessment at the country level and may not be entirely due to increased production.

Alaska pollock is the top caught species in 2016. Anchoveta catches comes in second and skipjack tuna ranked third.

The status of fishery resources

The fraction of fish stocks that are within biologically sustainable levels has exhibited a decreasing trend, from 90.0 percent in 1974 to 66.9 percent in 2015. In contrast, the percentage of stocks fished at biologically unsustainable levels increased from 10 percent in 1974 to 33.1 percent in 2015, with the largest increases in the late 1970s and 1980s.

link FIGURE 14

Global trends in the state of the world’s marine fish stocks, 1974–2015

  • Biologically unsustainable
  • Biologically sustainable

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In 2015, maximally sustainably fished stocks (formerly termed fully fished stocks) accounted for 59.9 percent and underfished stocks for 7.0 percent of the total assessed stocks. While the proportion of underfished stocks decreased continuously from 1974 to 2015, the maximally sustainably fished stocks decreased from 1974 to 1989, and then increased to 59.9 percent in 2015.

In 2015, among the 16 major statistical areas, the Mediterranean and Black Sea (Area 37) had the highest percentage (62.2 percent) of unsustainable stocks, closely followed by the Southeast Pacific 61.5 percent (Area 87) and Southwest Atlantic 58.8 percent (Area 41). In contrast, the Eastern Central Pacific (Area 77), Northeast Pacific (Area 67), Northwest Pacific (Area 61), Western Central Pacific (Area 71) and Southwest Pacific (Area 81) had the lowest proportion (13 to 17 percent) of fish stocks at biologically unsustainable levels.

in focus

Combatting illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing: global developments

The promotion, regulation and monitoring of responsible fishing practices, through robust fisheries management and governance frameworks, are essential for the sustainability of fisheries resources in both coastal areas and high seas. The principles of responsible fisheries management have been prescribed in a number of international ocean and fisheries instruments. However, states do not always satisfactorily fulfil their duties in line with such instruments and IUU fishing often occurs, undermining national, regional and global efforts to manage fisheries sustainably. It is not enough for states to detect IUU fishing; they must strengthen fisheries laws and regulations and be able to take effective action against perpetrators to deter non-compliance.

Although states need to improve performance and implement port state measures, there have been important achievements in the fight against IUU fishing. these include the development and adoption of international guidelines to promote the use of catch documentation schemes (CDSS) for better traceability of fish and fish products in the value chain; the Global Record of fishing vessels, refrigerated transport vessels (Global Record); and the adoption of the FAO agreement on port state measures to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (PSMA). The PSMA, the CDS guidelines and the Global Record represent a synergistic framework for combating IUU fishing.

sofia 2018 | iuu website

Aquaculture production

Global aquaculture production (including aquatic plants) in 2016 was 110.2 million tonnes, with the first-sale value estimated at USD 243.5 billion. The first-sale value, re-estimated with newly available information for some major producing countries, is considerably higher than previous estimates. The total production included 80.0 million tonnes of food fish (USD 231.6 billion) and 30.1 million tonnes of aquatic plants (USD 11.7 billion) as well as 37 900 tonnes of non-food products (USD 214.6 million).

link FIGURE 5

World aquaculture of food fish and aquatic plants, 1990-2016

  • Other animal species (all aquaculture)
  • Crustaceans (inland aquaculture)
  • Crustaceans (marine and coastal aquaculture)
  • Molluscs (all aquaculture)
  • Finfish (marine and coastal aquaculture)
  • Finfish (inland aquaculture)
  • Aquatic plants (all aquaculture)

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With 5.8 percent annual growth rate during the period 2001–2016, aquaculture continues to grow faster than other major food production sectors. For the first time aquaculture provides 53 percent of fish for human consumption.

The contribution of aquaculture to the global production of capture fisheries and aquaculture combined has risen continuously, reaching 46.8 percent in 2016, up from 25.7 percent in 2000.

With 5.8 percent annual growth rate during the period 2001–2016, aquaculture continues to grow faster than other major food production sectors, but it no longer enjoys the high annual growth rates experienced in the 1980s and 1990s. Also, the disparity in the level of sectoral development and uneven production distribution remain great among the countries within the regions and across the world.

The growth of farming of fed aquatic animal species has outpaced the farming of unfed species in world aquaculture.

The share of unfed species in total aquatic animal production decreased gradually from 2000 to 2016, shrinking by 10 percentage points to 30.5 percent.

In 2016, aquaculture was the source of 96.5 percent by volume of the total 31.2 million tonnes of wild-collected and cultivated aquatic plants combined.

Global production of farmed aquatic plants, overwhelmingly dominated by seaweeds, grew in output volume from 13.5 million tonnes in 1995 to just over 30 million tonnes in 2016.

59.6 million people worked in capture fisheries and aquaculture in 2016 (19.3 million people engaged in aquaculture and 40.3 million people engaged in fisheries).

Fishers and fish farmers

The most recent official statistics indicate that 59.6 million people were engaged in the primary sector of capture fisheries and aquaculture in 2016, with 19.3 million people engaged in aquaculture and 40.3 million people engaged in fisheries. The proportion of those employed in capture fisheries decreased from 83 percent in 1990 to 68 percent in 2016, while the proportion of those employed in aquaculture correspondingly increased from 17 to 32 percent.

In 2016, 85 percent of the global population engaged in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors was in Asia, followed by Africa (10 percent) and Latin America and the Caribbean (4 percent). The trends in the number of people engaged in the fisheries and aquaculture primary sectors vary by region. Europe and North America have experienced the largest proportional decreases in the number of people engaged in both sectors, with particular decreases in capture fishing. In contrast, Africa and Asia, with higher population growth and increasing economically active populations in the agriculture sector, have shown a generally positive trend for the number of people engaged in capture fishing and even higher rates of increase in those engaged in aquaculture.

link TABLE 11

World employment for fishers and fish farmers by region (thousands)

Region 1995 2000 2005 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Fisheries and aquaculture
Africa 2392 4175 4430 5027 5250 5885 6009 5674 5992 5671
Asia 31296 39646 43926 49345 48926 49040 47662 47730 50606 50468
Europe 530 779 705 662 656 647 240 394 455 445
Latin America and the Caribbean 1503 1774 1907 2185 2231 2251 2433 2444 2482 2466
North America 382 346 329 324 324 323 325 325 220 218
Oceania 121 126 122 124 128 127 47 46 343 342
TOTAL 36223 46845 51418 57667 57514 58272 56716 56612 60098 59609
Africa 2327 4084 4290 4796 4993 5587 5742 5413 5687 5367
Asia 23534 27435 29296 31430 29923 30865 29574 30190 32078 31990
Europe 474 676 614 560 553 544 163 328 367 354
Latin America and the Caribbean 1348 1560 1668 1937 1966 1982 2085 2092 2104 2085
North America 376 340 319 315 315 314 316 316 211 209
Oceania 117 121 117 119 122 121 42 40 334 334
TOTAL FISHERS 28176 34216 36304 39157 37872 39411 37922 38379 40781 40339
Africa 65 91 140 231 257 298 267 261 305 304
Asia 7762 12211 14630 17915 18373 18175 18088 17540 18528 18478
Europe 56 103 91 102 103 103 77 66 88 91
Latin America and the Caribbean 155 214 239 248 265 269 348 352 378 381
North America 6 6 10 9 9 9 9 9 9 9
Oceania 4 5 5 5 6 6 5 6 9 8
TOTAL FISH FARMERS 8049 12632 15115 18512 19015 18861 18794 18235 19316 19271

It is estimated that in 2016, overall, women accounted for nearly 14 percent of all people directly engaged in the fisheries and aquaculture primary sector, as compared with an average of 15.2 percent across the reporting period 2009–2016. The could be partially ascribed to decreased sex-disaggregated reporting.

The fishing fleet

The total number of fishing vessels in the world in 2016 was estimated to be about 4.6 million, unchanged from 2014. The fleet in Asia was the largest, consisting of 3.5 million vessels, accounting for 75 percent of the global fleet. In Africa and North America the estimated number of vessels declined from 2014 by just over 30 000 and by nearly 5 000, respectively. For Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean and Oceania the numbers all increased, largely as a result of improvements in estimation procedures.

Globally, the number of engine-powered vessels was estimated to be 2.8 million in 2016, remaining steady from 2014. Motorized vessels represented 61 percent of all fishing vessels in 2016, down from 64 percent in 2014, as the number of non-motorized vessels increased, probably because of improved estimations.

In 2016, about 86 percent of the motorized fishing vessels in the world were in the length overall (LOA) class of less than 12 m, the vast majority of which were undecked, and those small vessels dominated in all regions. On the contrary, the largest vessels, classified as those with LOA greater than 24 m made up about 2 percent of the total fleet.


Assessing climate change impacts for fisheries and aquaculture

Primary production of the global ocean is expected to decline by 6 percent by 2100 and by 11 percent in tropical zones. Diverse models predict that by 2050, the total global fish catch potential may vary by less than 10 percent depending on the trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions, but with very significant geographical variability. While impacts will be predominately negative in many fisheries-dependent tropical regions, opportunities will also arise in temperate regions.

Recent projections also reveal decreases in both marine and terrestrial production in almost 85 percent of coastal countries analysed, varying widely in their national capacity to adapt (Blanchard et al., 2017). These findings underline the importance of responding to climate change in a coordinated manner across all food systems, to ensure opportunities are maximized and negative impacts reduced, and to secure food and livelihood provision.

Impacts of climate change on fisheries and aquaculture Synthesis of current knowledge, adaptation and mitigation options

Fish utilization and processing

In 2016, of the 171 million tonnes of total fish production, about 88 percent or over 151 million tonnes were utilized for direct human consumption. This share has increased significantly in recent decades, as it was 67 percent in the 1960s.

In 2016, the greatest part of the 12 percent used for non-food purposes (about 20 million tonnes) was reduced to fishmeal and fish oil (74 percent or 15 million tonnes), while the rest (5 million tonnes) was largely utilized as material for direct feeding in aquaculture and raising of livestock and fur animals, in culture (e.g. fry, fingerlings or small adults for ongrowing), as bait, in pharmaceutical uses and for ornamental purposes.

Live, fresh or chilled is often the most preferred and highly priced form of fish and represents the largest share of fish for direct human consumption, 45 percent in 2016, followed by frozen (31 percent), prepared and preserved (12 percent) and cured (dried, salted, in brine, fermented smoked) (12 percent). Freezing represents the main method of processing fish for human consumption; it accounted for 56 percent of total processed fish for human consumption and 27 percent of total fish production in 2016.

Major improvements in processing as well as in refrigeration, ice-making and transportation have allowed increasing commercialization and distribution of fish in a greater variety of product forms in the past few decades. However, developing countries still mainly use fish in live or fresh form (53 percent of the fish destined for human consumption in 2016), soon after landing or harvesting from aquaculture. Loss or wastage between landing and consumption decreased, but still accounts for an estimated 27 percent of landed fish.

The value of world trade in fish and fish products has grown significantly, with exports rising from USD 8 billion in 1976 to USD 143 billion in 2016.

Fish trade and commodities

Fish and fish products are some of the most traded food items in the world today, and most of the world’s countries report some fish trade. In 2016, about 35 percent of global fish production entered international trade in various forms for human consumption or non-edible purposes.

The share of fish and fish products for human consumption alone has shown an upward trend, from 11 percent in 1976 to 27 percent in 2016. The 59 million tonnes (live weight equivalent) of total fish and fish products exported in 2016 represent a 242 percent increase over 1976, and the increase is more than 510 percent if only trade in fish for human consumption is considered.

During the same period, world trade in fish and fish products also grew significantly in value terms, with exports rising from USD 8 billion in 1976 to USD 143 billion in 2016, at an annual growth rate of 8 percent in nominal terms and 4 percent in real terms.

The rapid rate of expansion of international trade in fish and fish products over recent decades has taken place in the context of a broader process of globalization, a large-scale transformation of the world economy driven by trade liberalization and technological advancements. Developing countries play a key role in this trade and during the past 40 years, the growth rate of exports from developing countries has increased faster than from developed ones. In 2016 and, according to preliminary figures, also in 2017, developing country exports made up approximately 54 percent of the total value and about 59 percent of the total quantity (in live weight equivalent) of exports of fish and fish products.

China is the main fish producer and since 2002 has also been the largest exporter of fish and fish products, although they represent only 1 percent of its total merchandise trade. Behind China, Norway is the next largest exporter of fish and fish products. Viet Nam, with exports of USD 7.3 billion in 2016, is the world’s third largest exporter, with most of its revenue coming from exports of farmed Pangas catfishes (Pangasius spp.) and shrimp, in addition to a significant trade in processed and re-exported products.

link FIGURE 21

Import and export values of fish products for different regions, indicating net deficit or surplus

  • Export value (free on board)
  • Import value (cost, insurance, freight)

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Fish consumption

Since 1961, the average annual increase in global apparent food fish consumption (3.2 percent) has outpaced population growth (1.6 percent) and exceeded that of consumption of meat from all terrestrial animals, combined (2.8 percent) and individually (bovine, ovine, pig, other), except poultry (4.9 percent). In per capita terms, food fish consumption has grown from 9.0 kg in 1961 to 20.2 kg in 2015, at an average rate of about 1.5 percent per year. Preliminary estimates for 2016 and 2017 point to further growth to about 20.3 and 20.5 kg, respectively.

The expansion in consumption has been driven not only by increased production, but also by a combination of many other factors, including reduced wastage, better utilization, improved distribution channels and growing demand, linked with population growth, rising incomes and urbanization.

Fish contributes significantly to the human diet in terms of high-quality, easily-digestible animal proteins and helps fight micronutrient deficiencies.

Globally, fish and fish products provide an average of only about 34 calories per capita per day. However more than as an energy source, the dietary contribution of fish is significant in terms of high-quality, easily digested animal proteins and especially in fighting micronutrient deficiencies. A portion of 150 g of fish provides about 50 to 60 percent of an adult’s daily protein requirement. Fish proteins are essential in the diet of some densely populated countries where the total protein intake is low, and are particularly important in diets in Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

Europe, Japan and the United States of America together accounted for 47 percent of the world’s total food fish consumption in 1961 but only about 20 percent in 2015. Of the global total of 149 million tonnes in 2015, Asia consumed more than two-thirds (106 million tonnes at 24.0 kg per capita). Oceania and Africa consumed the lowest share. The shift is the result of structural changes in the sector and in particular the growing role of Asian countries in fish production, as well as a significant gap between the economic growth rates of the world’s more mature fish markets and those of many increasingly important emerging markets around the world, particularly in Asia.

link FIGURE 2

World fish utilization and apparent consumption

  • Food
  • Non-food uses
  • Population
  • Apparent consumption

NOTE: Excludes aquatic mammals, crocodiles, alligators and caimans, seaweeds and other aquatic plants

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Projections of fisheries, aquaculture and markets

Production: Based on the assumption of higher demand and technological improvements, total world fish production (capture plus aquaculture, excluding aquatic plants) is expected to continue to expand over the course of the projection period to reach 201 million tonnes in 2030. This represents a growth of 18 percent over 2016, or 30 million tonnes at a lower annual growth rate (1.0 percent) than observed in the period 2003–2016 (2.3 percent). The major growth in production is expected to originate from aquaculture, which is projected to reach 109 million tonnes in 2030, with growth of 37 percent over 2016.

Prices: The sector is expected to enter a decade of higher prices in nominal terms. Factors driving this tendency include income, population growth and meat prices on the demand side; and the potential slight decline in capture fisheries production as a result of policy measures in China, the slowdown in growth of aquaculture production and cost pressure from some crucial inputs (e.g. feed, energy and crude oil) on the supply side. In real terms, adjusted for inflation, it is assumed that all prices will decline slightly over the projection period but will remain high. As aquaculture is expected to represent a higher share of world fish supply, aquaculture could have a stronger impact on price formation in the sector overall (both production and trade).

Consumption: A growing share of fish production is expected to be destined for human consumption (around 90 percent). The driving force behind this increase will be a combination of rising incomes and urbanization, linked with the expansion of fish production and improved distribution channels. World food fish consumption in 2030 is projected to be 20 percent (or 30 million tonnes live weight equivalent) higher than in 2016. However, it is predicted that its average annual growth rate will be slower in the projection period (+1.2 percent) than in the period 2003– 2016 (+3.0 percent), mainly because of reduced production growth, higher fish prices and a deceleration in population expansion. In per capita terms, world fish consumption is projected to reach 21.5 kg in 2030, up from 20.3 kg in 2016. The highest growth rates are projected for Latin America (+18 percent) and for Asia and Oceania (+8 percent each). In Africa, per capita fish consumption is expected to decrease by 0.2 percent per year up to 2030, declining from 9.8 kg in 2016 to 9.6 kg in 2030, as a result of population growth outpacing supply.

Trade: Fish and fish products will continue to be highly traded. It is projected that about 31 percent of total fishery production will be exported in 2030 (38 percent if trade within the European Union is included), in the form of different products for human consumption or non-edible purposes, traded at various stages of processing. In quantity terms, world trade of fish for human consumption is expected to grow by 24 percent in the projection period and to reach more than 48million tonnes in live weight equivalent in 2030 (60.6 million tonnes if trade within the European Union is included). China will continue to be the major exporter of fish for human consumption (followed by Viet Nam and Norway), with its share in total fish exports for human consumption remaining at 20 percent.

SOFIA 2018

link FIGURE 50

Global capture fisheries and aquaculture production, 1990–2030

  • Aquaculture for human consumption
  • Total capture fisheries
  • Capture fisheries for human consumption

NOTE: Excludes aquatic mammals, crocodiles, alligators and caimans, seaweeds and other aquatic plants

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Summary of main outcomes from the projections

The following major trends for the period up to 2030 emerge from the analyses:

  • World fish production, consumption and trade are expected to increase, but with a growth rate that will slow over time.
  • Despite reduced capture fisheries production in China, world capture fisheries production is projected to increase slightly through increased production in other areas if resources are properly managed.
  • Expanding world aquaculture production, although growing more slowly than in the past, is anticipated to fill the supply–demand gap.
  • Prices will all increase in nominal terms while declining in real terms, although remaining high.
  • Food fish supply will increase in all regions, while per capita fish consumption is expected to decline in Africa, which raises concerns in terms of food security.
  • Trade in fish and fish products is expected to increase more slowly than in the past decade, but the share of fish production that is exported is projected to remain stable.