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Harvesting freshwater prawn at Sri Lanka. (Photo: Rohana Subasinghe, FAO)

More than half of the fish comes from aquaculture

Friday, November 11, 2011, 23:40 (GMT + 9)

Aquaculture currently provides about 50 per cent of all the fish consumed worldwide, and projections indicate that by 2012 more than half the fish for human consumption will come from aquaculture operations.

This is indicated by a study from the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which emphasizes that aquaculture is the source of animal protein that records the fastest growth worldwide.

According to the 2010 State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture report, global production of farmed fish grew more than 60 per cent between 2000 and 2008, from 32.4 million tonnes to 52.5 million tonnes.

"With the captured fish production that has a stagnant status and the population growth, it is considered that aquaculture has the greatest potential to produce more fish in the future and meet the growing demand for safe and high quality aquatic food," the FAO report explains.

Small-scale tilapia farming in Fiji is on the increase. (Photo:Tim Pickering, FAO)

It is added that fishing and aquaculture are a crucial source of income and livelihoods for hundreds of millions of people around the world, and employment in the sector grows faster than the world population and than the employment in traditional agriculture.

"Women play a key role in fisheries and aquaculture, particularly in post-harvest activities, accounting for almost half of the people working in small-scale fisheries, a number that amounts to more than 50 per cent in inland fisheries," FAO added.

However, the aquaculture sector did not grow evenly in all countries so significant differences are observed in production levels, in the species composition and in the agricultural systems among the regions.

FAO also details that in 2008, the Asia-Pacific region accounted for 89.1 per cent of the world production, and China accounted for 62.3 per cent of that total figure.

Of the 15 leading countries for their aquaculture production, 11 are in the Asia-Pacific region.

Aquaculture and market. (Photo: FAO)

With respect to the main species, the leading countries are:

  • China: carps;
  • China, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and India: shrimp and prawns;
  • Norway and Chile: salmon.

In relation to farming systems, the FAO report details that the ones that are intensive are the prevalent types in the United States and in the advanced producing countries of Europe and Latin America, while the small commercial producers are the leaders in the Asia-Pacific region.

Moreover, the study notes that over the years, consumers have been prioritizing issues such as food safety, traceability, certification and eco-labelling.

The report also examines the effects of climate change and biodiversity loss, and efforts made to reduce illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, income dissipation and the effects of discarded fishing tackles are highlighted.

It is also suggested that the aquaculture sector should promote transparency and encourage the implementation of an ecosystem approach to fishing.

Árni M. Mathiesen, deputy director general of FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department, said he hoped that this document "provides readers with an accurate and useful overview of fisheries and aquaculture."

He also expressed his desire "that it offers a glimpse of the future that the sector will probably face and of the tools available to help people around the world to implement and manage responsible fishing and aquaculture."

By Analia Murias
[email protected]



Photo Courtesy of FIS Member  FAO - Food and Agriculture Organization - Fisheries and Aquaculture Department (Headquarter)

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