The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda for short) offers a vision of a fairer, more peaceful world in which no one is left behind. The 2030 Agenda also sets aims for the contribution and conduct of fisheries and aquaculture towards food security and nutrition, and the sector’s use of natural resources, in a way that ensures sustainable development in economic, social and environmental terms, within the context of the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (FAO, 1995).
A major challenge to implementation of the 2030 Agenda is the sustainability divide between developed and developing countries which has partially resulted from increased economic interdependencies, coupled with limited management and governance capacity in developing countries. To eliminate this disparity while making progress towards the target for restoration of overfished stocks set by the 2030 Agenda, the global community needs to support developing nations to achieve their full fisheries and aquaculture potential.
Capture fisheries in the world’s inland waters produced 11.6 million tonnes in 2016, representing 12.8 percent of total marine and inland catches. The 2016 global catch from inland waters showed an increase of 2.0 percent over the previous year and of 10.5 percent in comparison to the 2005– 2014 average, but this result may be misleading as some of the increase can be attributed to improved data collection and assessment at the country level.
Sixteen countries produced almost 80 percent of the inland fishery catch, mostly in Asia, where inland catches provide a key food source for many local communities. Inland catches are also an important food source for several countries in Africa, which accounts for 25 percent of global inland catches. Aquaculture continues to grow faster than other major food production sectors although it no longer enjoys the high annual growth rates of the 1980s and 1990s (11.3 and 10.0 percent, excluding aquatic plants).
Average annual growth declined to 5.8 percent during the period 2000–2016, although double-digit growth still occurred in a small number of individual countries, particularly in Africa from 2006 to 2010. Global aquaculture production in 2016 included 80.0 million tonnes of food fish and 30.1 million tonnes of aquatic plants, as well as 37 900 tonnes of non-food products. Farmed food fish production included 54.1 million tonnes of finfish, 17.1 million tonnes of molluscs, 7.9 million tonnes of crustaceans and 938 500 tonnes of other aquatic animals.
China, by far the major producer of farmed food fish in 2016, has produced more than the rest of the world combined every year since 1991. The other major producers in 2016 were India, Indonesia, Viet Nam, Bangladesh, Egypt and Norway. Farmed aquatic plants included mostly seaweeds and a much smaller production volume of microalgae. China and Indonesia were by far the major producers of aquatic plants in 2016.
Global fish production1 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. The total first sale value of fisheries and aquaculture production in 2016 was estimated at USD 362 billion, of which USD 232 billion was from aquaculture production. 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 (Figure 1). Between 1961 and 2016, the average annual increase in global food fish consumption2 (3.2 percent) outpaced population growth (1.6 percent) (Figure 2) and exceeded that of meat from all terrestrial animals combined (2.8 percent).
Despite the continuous increase in the percentage of stocks fished at biologically unsustainable levels, progress has been made in some regions. For example, the proportion of stocks fished within biologically sustainable levels increased from 53 percent in 2005 to 74 percent in 2016 in the United States of America, and from 27 percent in 2004 to 69 percent in 2015 in Australia. In the Northeast Atlantic and adjacent seas, the percentage of stocks where fishing mortality does not exceed the fishing mortality at MSY increased from 34 percent in 2003 to 60 percent in 2015. However, achieving SDG target 14.4 will require effective partnership between the developed and developing worlds, particularly in policy coordination, financial and human resource mobilization and deployment of advanced technologies.
Experience has proved that rebuilding overfished stocks can produce higher yields as well as substantial social, economic and ecological benefits. Of the 171 million tonnes of total fish production in 2016, about 88 percent (over 151 million tonnes) was utilized for direct human consumption, a share that has increased significantly in recent decades. The greatest part of the 12 percent used for non-food purposes (about 20 million tonnes) was reduced to fishmeal and fish oil. 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).
Despite improvements in fish processing and distribution practices, loss or wastage between landing and consumption still accounts for an estimated 27 percent of landed fish.
In per capita terms, food fish consumption grew 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 other factors, including reduced wastage. In 2015, fish accounted for about 17 percent of animal protein consumed by the global population. Moreover, fish provided about 3.2 billion people with almost 20 percent of their average per capita intake of animal protein.
Despite their relatively low levels of fish consumption, people in developing countries have a higher share of fish protein in their diets than those in developed countries. The highest per capita fish consumption, over 50 kg, is found in several small island developing States (SIDS), particularly in Oceania, while the lowest levels, just above 2 kg, are in Central Asia and some landlocked countries.
Around 303 exhibitors from 29 nations presented their products in the areas of fish production and processing, fresh fish and delicacies, as well as research and development in February 2020. More than 10,000 visitors from fisheries management, retail and catering took the opportunity for information, networking and discussion.
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