Fish consumption hits all time high: FAO report

By Mike Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Overfishing, Fish

Global fish consumption has reached its highest ever level of about 17 kg per person on average, supplying more than 3bn people with at least 15 per cent of their average animal protein intake, according to a new report from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Fuelling the rise was the strong growth of aquaculture which is set to overtake capture fisheries as the main source of fish.

Richard Grainger, senior FAO fisheries expert, one of the report's editors, said: "Fish is a good quality and high protein food and the sector contributes in an important way to world food security​."

Food security

But the continued depletion of global stocks threatens world food security, he added. "That there has been no improvement in the status of stocks is a matter of great concern. The percentage of overexploitation needs to go down although at least we seem to be reaching a plateau​."

The percentage of overexploited, depleted or recovering fish stocks in the world's oceans is estimated to be slightly higher than in 2006. About 32 per cent of world fish stocks are estimated to be overexploited, depleted or recovering and need to be rebuilt urgently, said the report.

Most stocks of the top 10 commercial fish species, accounting for nearly a third of the total global catch were fully exploited, warned the report.

For example: Of the seas’ 23 tuna stocks, most (possibly 60 per cent) are more or less fully exploited, some are overexploited or depleted (possibly 35 per cent) and only a few (mainly skipjack) appear to be underexploited.

Overall, although the level of overexploitation had increased slightly since 2006, 15 per cent of global stocks were either underexploited or moderately exploited.

This meant that catches in these regions could increase in order to meet the demand for fish products.

Global production of fish and fish products reached 145m tonnes in 2009; up 5m tonnes since 2007.

The global catch is about 90m tonnes, including 80m tonnes from the sea and 10m tonnes from inland waters.

Acquaculture

Acquaculture produce nearly equals captured fish and is growing at nearly seven per cent a year.

China is the world’s top fish producer – landing 47.5m tonnes in 2008 including 32.7m tonnes from aquaculture and 14.8m tonnes from fishing.

Fish continues to be the globe’s most-traded food commodity valued at US $102bn (£63bn) in 2008; up nine per cent on the previous year.

Meanwhile, fisheries and aquaculture support the livelihoods of an estimated 540m people, or eight per cent of the world population.

The report, the State of the World's Fisheries and Aquaculture​, was pubished by FAO today.

Related topics: Market Trends

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