Supply of Fish

Faced with one of the world’s greatest challenges – how to feed more than 9 billion people by 2050 in a context of climate change, economic and financial uncertainty, and growing competition for natural resources – the international community made unprecedented commitments in September 2015 when UN Member States adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The 2030 Agenda also sets aims for the contribution and conduct of fisheries and aquaculture towards food security and nutrition in the use of natural resources so as to ensure sustainable development in economic, social and environmental terms.
Many millennia after terrestrial food production shifted from hunter-gatherer activities to agriculture, aquatic food production has transitioned from being primarily based on capture of wild fish to culture of increasing numbers of farmed species. A milestone was reached in 2014 when the aquaculture sector’s contribution to the supply of fish for human consumption overtook that of wild-caught fish for the first time. Meeting the ever-growing demand for fish as food in conformity with the 2030 Agenda will be imperative, and also immensely challenging.
With capture fishery production relatively static since the late 1980s, aquaculture has been responsible for the impressive growth in the supply of fish for human consumption (Figure 1).

Whereas aquaculture provided only 7 percent of fish for human consumption in 1974, this share had increased to 26 percent in 1994 and 39 percent in 2004. China has played a major rôle in this growth as it represents more than 60 percent of world aquaculture production.
World per capita apparent fish consumption increased from an average of 9.9 kg in the 1960s to 14.4 kg in the 1990s and 19.7 kg in 2013, with preliminary estimates for 2014 and 2015 pointing towards further growth beyond 20 kg (Table 1, all data presented are subject to rounding). In addition to the increase in production, other factors that have contributed to rising consumption include reductions in wastage, better utilization, improved distribution channels, and growing demand linked to population growth, rising incomes and urbanization. International trade has also played an important role in providing wider choices to consumers.
Although annual per capita consumption of fish has grown steadily in developing regions (from 5.2 kg in 1961 to 18.8 kg in 2013) and in low-income food-deficit countries (LIFDCs) (from 3.5 to 7.6 kg), it is still considerably lower than that in more developed regions, even though the gap is narrowing. In 2013, per capita apparent fish consumption in industrialized countries was 26.8 kg. A sizeable and growing share of fish consumed in developed countries consists of imports, owing to steady demand and static or declining domestic fishery production.

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