Global fisheries and aquaculture production hits a new record high; FAO report states

Global fisheries and aquaculture production hits a new record high; FAO report states

Rome/San Jose, Costa Rica – Global fisheries and aquaculture production has reached a new peak, with aquaculture surpassing capture fisheries in producing aquatic animals for the first time, according to a new report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) released on Friday.

The 2024 edition of The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture (SOFIA) states that in 2022, global fisheries and aquaculture production surged to 223.2 million tonnes, marking a 4.4 per cent increase from 2020. This included 185.4 million tonnes of aquatic animals and 37.8 million tonnes of algae.

“FAO acknowledges these significant achievements, yet emphasises the need for further transformative and adaptive actions to enhance the efficiency, inclusiveness, resilience, and sustainability of aquatic food systems,” said FAO Director-General QU Dongyu. “This is why FAO promotes Blue Transformation, aiming for better production, nutrition, environment, and life, ensuring no one is left behind,” the FAO DG added.

The SOFIA report will be officially launched at the High-level event on ocean action “Immersed in Change” in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Record Aquaculture Production

In 2022, aquaculture surpassed capture fisheries as the leading producer of aquatic animals for the first time, achieving an unprecedented 130.9 million tonnes, with 94.4 million tonnes being aquatic animals. This accounts for 51 per cent of the total aquatic animal production.

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The growth of aquaculture highlights its potential to meet the increasing global demand for aquatic foods, but future expansion must prioritise sustainability and benefit regions and communities most in need.

Currently, a few countries dominate aquaculture production, with China, Indonesia, India, Vietnam, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Republic of Korea, Norway, Egypt, and Chile accounting for over 89.8 per cent of the total. However, many low-income countries in Africa and Asia are not fully utilising their potential. Policies, technology transfer, capacity building, and responsible investment are vital to boosting sustainable aquaculture, especially in Africa.

Rising Global Consumption of Aquatic Foods

The record production of aquatic foods underscores the sector’s potential in combating food insecurity and malnutrition. Global consumption of aquatic animal foods reached 162.5 million tonnes in 2021, growing at nearly twice the rate of the world population since 1961, with per capita annual consumption rising from 9.1 kg in 1961 to 20.7 kg in 2022.

Of the total aquatic animal production, 89 per cent was used for direct human consumption, highlighting the essential role of fisheries and aquaculture in global food security. The remaining portion was used for indirect or non-food purposes, mainly fishmeal and fish oil production.

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Supporting sustainable consumption is crucial for promoting healthy diets and improving global nutrition. Aquatic foods provide high-quality proteins and key nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids, minerals, and vitamins. In 2021, these foods contributed at least 20 per cent of the per capita protein supply from all animal sources to 3.2 billion people.

Sustainable Capture Fisheries

Global capture fisheries production has remained stable since the late 1980s. In 2022, it produced 92.3 million tonnes, including 11.3 million tonnes from inland and 81 million tonnes from marine capture. Despite the rise in aquaculture, capture fisheries remain a crucial source of aquatic animal production.

However, the proportion of marine stocks fished within biologically sustainable levels decreased to 62.3 per cent in 2021, down 2.3 per cent from 2019. Nevertheless, 76.9 per cent of the 2021 landings from FAO-monitored stocks were from biologically sustainable stocks, emphasising the importance of effective fisheries management in reversing declining trends.

Future Projections for Production and Consumption

SOFIA also provides FAO’s outlook for fisheries and aquaculture, projecting increases in production and consumption up to 2032. Aquatic animal production is expected to rise by 10 per cent to reach 205 million tonnes by 2032, driven by aquaculture expansion and capture fisheries recovery.

Apparent consumption is projected to increase by 12 per cent, averaging 21.3 kg per capita by 2032. This growth is expected to be driven by rising incomes, urbanisation, improvements in post-harvest practices, distribution, and dietary trends.

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However, per capita consumption in Africa is projected to decrease, with production not keeping pace with population growth. This is particularly concerning for sub-Saharan Africa, where many countries rely on aquatic foods for nutrition.

The report also examines the potential implications of population dynamics on the supply of aquatic animal food up to 2050. To maintain the 2022 level of 20.7 kg per capita, an increase of 36 million tonnes in total supply is needed, highlighting the necessity of accelerating Blue Transformation’s priority actions.

Employment and Livelihoods

Fisheries and aquaculture are vital for livelihoods, despite a decline in employment from 62.8 million in 2020 to 61.8 million in 2022. Women make up 24 per cent of the overall workforce and 62 per cent in processing, but gender inequality issues persist, including wage disparities and insufficient recognition.

The SOFIA report, a flagship publication of FAO, analyses the status and health of global fishery stocks and trends in fisheries and aquaculture. The 2024 edition highlights the progress of Blue Transformation, showcasing FAO’s role in promoting sustainable aquaculture and fisheries management and ensuring value chains prioritise efficiency, safety, and equity.

SOFIA 2024 in numbers

All figures are from 2022 unless otherwise specified.

Production

Global fisheries and aquaculture production: 223.2 million tonnes
Aquatic animals: 185.4 million tonnes
Algae: 37.8 million tonnes
Global aquaculture production: 130.9 million tonnes
Global capture fisheries: 92.3 million tonnes
Aquatic animal production by region: Asia (70 per cent), Europe (9 per cent), Latin America and the Caribbean (9 per cent), Africa (7 per cent), Northern America (3 per cent) and Oceania (1 per cent)
Main producers of aquatic animals by country: China (36 per cent), India (8 per cent), Indonesia (7 per cent), Viet Nam (5 per cent) and Peru (3 per cent)
Estimated total first sale value of fisheries and aquaculture production: USD 472 billion
Estimated total first sale value of aquaculture production: USD 313 billion

Sustainability

Proportion of sustainably fished marine stocks monitored by FAO (2021): 62.3 per cent
Proportion of sustainably fished marine stocks level monitored by FAO weighted by production (2021): 78.9 per cent

Consumption

Global apparent consumption of aquatic animal foods (2021): 162.5 million tonnes
Global apparent consumption of aquatic foods per capita (2021): 20.6 kg
Increase in global apparent consumption of aquatic foods per capita: from 9.1 kg in 1961 to 20.6 in 2021

Employment

People employed in primary production: 61.8 million
Workers by sector: fisheries (54 per cent), aquaculture (36 per cent), sector not specified (10 per cent)
Percentage of jobs by region: Asia (85 per cent), Africa (10 per cent), Latin America and the Caribbean (4 per cent), Europe, Oceania and Northern America combined (1 per cent).

Trade

Top exporters of aquatic animal products: China, Norway, VietNam, Ecuador, Chile
Top importers of aquatic animal products: The United States of America, China, Japan, Spain, France
Value of international trade of aquatic products: USD 195 billion

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