FAO report shows global fisheries and aquaculture production reaches new record high

Fish farm at an undisclosed location (Photo: FAO/Saikat Mojumder)
Fish farm at an undisclosed location (Photo: FAO/Saikat Mojumder)

World fisheries and aquaculture production has hit a new high, with aquaculture production of aquatic animals surpassing capture fisheries for the first time, according to a new report from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) released earlier this month. The 2024 edition of The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture (SOFIA) said global fisheries and aquaculture production in 2022 surged to 223.2 million tonnes, a 4.4 per cent increase from the year 2020. Production comprised 185.4 million tonnes of aquatic animals and 37.8 million tonnes of algae.

Aquaculture produces record amount

The FAO said that, in 2022 and for the first time in history, aquaculture surpassed capture fisheries as the main producer of aquatic animals. Global aquaculture production reached 130.9 million tonnes, of which 94.4 million tonnes are aquatic animals, 51 per cent of the total aquatic animal production.

The FAO said aquaculture growth indicates its capacity to further contribute to meeting the rising global demand for aquatic foods. However, future expansion and intensification must prioritise sustainability and benefit regions and communities most in need.

At present, a small number of countries dominate aquaculture. Ten of them – China, Indonesia, India, Vietnam, Bangladesh, the Philippines, South Korea, Norway, Egypt, and Chile – produced over 89.8 per cent of the total, whereas many low-income countries in Africa and Asia are not using their full potential.

Global consumption of aquatic foods rises again

Record production of aquatic foods underlines the sector's potential in tackling food insecurity and malnutrition. Global apparent consumption of aquatic animal foods reached 162.5 million tonnes in 2021. This figure has increased at nearly twice the rate of the world population since 1961, with global per capita annual consumption rising from 9.1 kg in 1961 to 20.7 kg in 2022.

Of total aquatic animal production, 89 per cent was used for direct human consumption. The rest was destined for indirect or non-food uses, mainly fishmeal and fish oil production.

Most capture fisheries production comes from sustainable stocks

Global capture fisheries production has remained stable since the late 1980s. In 2022, the sector produced 92.3 million tonnes, comprising 11.3 million tonnes from inland and 81 million tonnes from marine capture. Despite the growth in aquaculture, capture fisheries remain an essential source of aquatic animal production.

The proportion of marine stocks fished within biologically sustainable levels, however, decreased to 62.3 per cent in 2021, 2.3 per cent lower than in 2019. When weighted by production level, an estimated 76.9 per cent of the 2021 landings from stocks monitored by FAO were from biologically sustainable stocks.

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