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FAO Report: Global Fisheries And Aquaculture Production Reaches A New Record High

Aquaculture surpasses capture fisheries in aquatic animal production for the first time, The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2024 says

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 Organization of the United Nations (FAO) released today.

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 percent increase from the year 2020. Production comprised 185.4 million tonnes of aquatic animals and 37.8 million tonnes of algae.

Asia accounted for 167.1 million tonnes of global fisheries and aquaculture production, 75 percent of the world's total. Asia leads all regions producing 70 percent of global aquatic animals and 97 percent of global algae.

Total fisheries and aquaculture production for Oceania was 1.8 million tonnes, including 15 300 tonnes of algae.

“FAO welcomes the significant achievements thus far, but further transformative and adaptive actions are needed to strengthen the efficiency, inclusiveness, resilience and sustainability of aquatic food systems and consolidate their role in addressing food insecurity, poverty alleviation and sustainable governance,” said FAO Director-General QU Dongyu. “That’s why FAO advocates Blue Transformation, to meet the overall requirements of better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life, leaving no one behind.”

Asia dominates global aquaculture production as 2022 sees record output

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In 2022 and for the first time in history, aquaculture surpassed capture fisheries as the main producer of aquatic animals. Global aquaculture production reached an unprecedented 130.9 million tonnes, of which 94.4 million tonnes are aquatic animals, 51 percent of the total aquatic animal production.

Asia provided 119.7 million tonnes of global aquaculture production accounting for 91.4 percent of the world total. In Oceania, aquaculture production reached about 250 000 tonnes in 2022.

The top seven highest-producing countries in aquaculture are all in Asia: China, Indonesia, India, Vietnam, Bangladesh, the Philippines, and the Republic of Korea. In 2022, these countries alone accounted for 86.2% of the total world production. However, many low-income countries in Asia are not utilizing their full aquaculture development potential. Targeted policies, technology transfer, capacity building, and responsible investment are crucial to boosting sustainable aquaculture where it is most needed.

Global consumption of aquatic foods rises again with Asia leading the way

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, with global per capita annual consumption rising to 20.7 kg in 2022.

In Asia, apparent food consumption grew to 116.1 million tonnes, with an annual per capita consumption of 24.7kg, significantly higher than the global average. In Oceania, food consumption was one million tonnes, reflecting an annual consumption rate of 21.8 kg per capita.

Aquatic animal foods provide high-quality proteins and key nutrients. In 2021, they contributed at least 20 percent of the per capita protein supply from all animal sources to 3.2 billion people.

Most global 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.

In Asia, the capture fisheries subsector produced 47.1 million tonnes of aquatic animals, around 52 percent of world total. Oceania caught 1.6 million tonnes of aquatic animals, around 2 percent of global capture fisheries.

At the global level, the proportion of marine stocks fished within biologically sustainable levels, however, decreased to 62.3 percent in 2021, 2.3 percent lower than in 2019. When weighted by production level, an estimated 76.9 percent of the 2021 landings from stocks monitored by FAO were from biologically sustainable stocks. This underscores the role that effective fisheries management can play in facilitating stock recovery and increased catches, highlighting the urgent need to replicate successful policies to reverse the current declining trend.

FAO projects rise in production and consumption

SOFIA also contains FAO’s outlook for fisheries and aquaculture, which projects increases in world production and apparent consumption for the period up to 2032.

Aquatic animal production is expected to increase by 10 percent by 2032 to reach 205 million tonnes. Aquaculture expansion and capture fisheries recovery will account for this rise, with apparent consumption increasing by 12 percent to supply on average 21.3 kg per capita in 2032.

The report also outlines the potential implications of population dynamics on aquatic animal food supply up to 2050. To maintain the 2022 estimated level of 20.7 kg per capita globally through 2050, aquatic animal food supply must increase by 22 percent. In Asia, 12 percent increase will be needed, while Oceania must increase supply by 28 percent during the same time period. This highlights the need to accelerate Blue Transformation actions as aquatic foods become increasingly crucial in ending hunger, malnutrition and poverty.

A vital sector for millions of livelihoods

Fisheries and aquaculture are an important source of livelihoods. According to the latest data, an estimated 61.8 million people were employed in the primary sector of fisheries and aquaculture in 2022, down from 62.8 million in 2020.

Sex-disaggregated data indicated that women made up 24 percent of the overall workforce in the primary sector but 62 percent in the processing subsector.

In Asia, an estimated 52.7 million people were employed in the primary fisheries and aquaculture sector, reflecting 85 percent of the world total. Oceania accounted for only 0.1 percent of world total with an estimated 91 000 people employed in primary sector.

SOFIA is an FAO flagship report that analyses the status and health of global fishery stocks as well as trends in fisheries and aquaculture at a global and regional level. The 2024 edition spotlights the concrete advances of Blue Transformation in action, showcasing the role of FAO, in collaboration with Members and partners, in driving change towards sustainable aquaculture expansion and intensification, effectively managed fisheries, and value chains that prioritize efficiency, safety and equity.

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