1. What is the overall fishery production? *

  • 1.1 How much is being fished?
  • 1.2 How much is being fished in the world’s oceans and seas?
  • 1.3 What is the trend in open ocean catches?
  • 1.4 How much is being fished in inland waters?
  • 1.5 How much is produced by aquaculture?
The source document for this Digest states:
Capture fisheries and aquaculture supplied the world with about 110 million tonnes of food fish in 2006 (all data presented are subject to rounding), providing an apparent per capita supply of 16.7 kg (live weight equivalent), which is among the highest on record (Table 1 and Figure 1). Of this total, aquaculture accounted for 47 percent. Outside China, per capita supply has shown a modest growth rate of about 0.5 percent per year since 1992 (following a decline from 1987), as growth in supply from aquaculture more than offset the effects of static capture fishery production and a rising population (Table 2 and Figure 2). In 2006, per capita food fish supply was estimated at 13.6 kg if data for China are excluded. Overall, fish provided more than 2.9 billion people with at least 15 percent of their average per capita animal protein intake. The share of fish proteins in total world animal protein supplies grew from 14.9 percent in 1992 to a peak of 16.0 percent in 1996, declining to about 15.3 percent in 2005. Notwithstanding the relatively low fish consumption by weight in low-income food-deficit countries (LIFDCs) of 13.8 kg per capita in 2005, the contribution of fish to total animal protein intake was significant – at 18.5 percent – and is probably higher than indicated by official statistics in view of the under-recorded contribution of small- scale and subsistence fisheries.

China remains by far the largest producer, with reported fisheries production of 51.5 million tonnes in 2006 (17.1 and 34.4 million tonnes from capture fisheries and aquaculture, respectively), providing an estimated domestic food supply of 29.4 kg per capita as well as production for export and non-food purposes. However, there are continued indications that capture fisheries and aquaculture production statistics for China may be too high, as noted in previous issues of The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture,1 and that this problem has existed since the early 1990s. Because of the importance of China and the uncertainty about its production statistics, as in previous issues of this report, China is generally discussed separately from the rest of the world. In 2008, China indicated that it was working to revise its fishery and aquaculture production statistics downwards based on the outcome of the National Agricultural Census of 2006, which included for the first time questions relating to fisheries and aquaculture, as well as fishery surveys. Revised statistics for a period of years are expected to be made available by 2009 and to be reflected subsequently in FAO statistics and in future issues of The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture.
In 2008, China reported a downward revision of total fishery and aquaculture production for 2006 of more than 10 percent, corresponding to a reduction of more than 2 million tonnes in capture production and more than 3 million tonnes in aquaculture production. Preliminary estimates for 2007 based on reporting by some major fishing countries indicate that world fishery production excluding China is 96 million tonnes, representing approximately a 3 percent increase for capture production and a 7 percent increase for aquaculture production compared with 2006.
Global capture fisheries production in 2006 was about 92 million tonnes, with an estimated first-sale value of US$91.2 billion, comprising about 82 million tonnes from marine waters and a record 10 million tonnes from inland waters (Table 1 and Figure 3). China, Peru and the United States of America remained the top producing countries. World capture fisheries production has been relatively stable in the past decade with the exception of marked fluctuations driven by catches of anchoveta – a species extremely susceptible to oceanographic conditions determined by the El Niño Southern Oscillation – in the Southeast Pacific (Figure 3). Fluctuations in other species and regions tend to compensate for each other to a large extent. China remains by far the global leader with more than 17 million tonnes in 2006. Asian countries accounted for 52 percent of the global capture production. Overall catches in the Western Central Pacific and in the Western Indian Ocean continued to increase, whereas capture production decreased in both the Western and Eastern Central areas of the Atlantic Ocean. In the Eastern Indian Ocean, total catches in 2006 returned to growth after the decrease in 2005 caused by the destructive effects of the tsunami of December 2004. Catches from inland waters, almost two-thirds of which were taken in Asia in 2006, have shown a slowly but steadily increasing trend since 1950, owing in part to stock enhancement practices and possibly also to improved reporting.
Aquaculture continues to be the fastest growing animal food-producing sector and to outpace population growth, with per capita supply from aquaculture increasing from 0.7 kg in 1970 to 7.8 kg in 2006, an average annual growth rate of 6.9 percent. It is set to overtake capture fisheries as a source of food fish. From a production of less than 1 million tonnes per year in the early 1950s, production in 2006 was reported to be 51.7 million tonnes with a value of US$78.8 billion, representing an annual growth rate of nearly 7 percent. World aquaculture is heavily dominated by the Asia–Pacific region, which accounts for 89 percent of production in terms of quantity and 77 percent in terms of value. This dominance is mainly due to China’s enormous production, which accounts for 67 percent of global production in terms of quantity and 49 percent of global value. China produces 77 percent of all carps (cyprinids) and 82 percent of the global supply of oysters (ostreids). The Asia–Pacific region accounts for 98 percent of carp, 95 percent of oyster production, and 88 percent of shrimps and prawns (penaeids). Norway and Chile are the world’s two leading producers of cultured salmons (salmonids), accounting for 33 and 31 percent, respectively, of world production. Aquatic plant production by aquaculture in 2006 was 15.1 million tonnes. The culture of aquatic plants has increased consistently, with an average annual growth rate of 8 percent since 1970. In 2006, it contributed 93 percent of the world’s total supply of aquatic plants, or 15.1 million tonnes (US$7.2 billion), some 72 percent of which was produced by China. However, growth rates for aquaculture production are slowing, partly owing to public concerns about aquaculture practices and fish quality. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) remain a controversial issue. In response to these concerns, integrated multitrophic aquaculture (which promotes economic and environmental sustainability) and organic aquaculture are on the rise.
Fisheries and aquaculture, directly or indirectly, play an essential role in the livelihoods of millions of people around the world. In 2006, an estimated 43.5 million people were directly engaged, part time or full time, in primary production of fish either in capture from the wild or in aquaculture, and a further 4 million people were engaged on an occasional basis (2.5 million of these in India). In the last three decades, employment in the primary fisheries and aquaculture sector has grown faster than the world’s population and employment in traditional agriculture. Eighty- six percent of fishers and fish farmers worldwide live in Asia, with China having the greatest numbers (8.1 million fishers and 4.5 million fish farmers). In 2006, other countries with a significant number of fishers and fish farmers were India, Indonesia, the Philippines and Viet Nam. Most fishers and fish farmers are small-scale, artisanal fishers, operating on coastal and inland fishery resources. Currently, fleet-size reduction programmes in China and other countries, aimed at tackling overfishing, are reducing the number of full-time and part-time fishers. Globally, the number of people engaged in capture fisheries declined by 12 percent in the period 2001–06. On the other hand, in recent decades, major increases in the total number have come from the development of aquaculture activities. In 2006, the estimated number of fish farmers was nearly 9 million people, with 94 percent operating in Asia. For each person employed in the primary sector, it has been estimated that there could be four employed in the secondary sector (including fish processing, marketing and service industries), indicating employment of about 170 million in the whole industry. Taking account of dependants, about 520 million people could be dependent on the sector, or nearly 8 percent of the world population.
The number of fishing vessels powered by engines is estimated to have been about 2.1 million in 2006, of which almost 70 percent were concentrated in Asia. Of the remaining vessels, most were accounted for by Africa, followed by Europe, the Near East, Latin America and the Caribbean. As almost 90 percent of motorized fishing vessels in the world are less than 12 metres long, such vessels dominate everywhere, particularly in Africa, Asia and the Near East. The fishing fleets in the Pacific region, Oceania, Europe and North America tend to consist of vessels that, on average, are slightly larger. This characteristic is confirmed by the distribution of industrialized fleets (vessels of more than 100 gross tonnage [GT], roughly more than 24 m long, extracted from Lloyds Fairplay database), which shows them as rather evenly distributed among Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, and North America. Correspondingly, there is a higher proportion of vessels of more than 100 GT in the Europe, North America and Latin America and Caribbean regions than in the Africa and Asia regions. Fleet reduction schemes have had mixed success. The numbers of both fishing vessels and fish carriers have stayed around the same level in the last ten years. While the size of the fishing fleet has declined slightly in terms of gross tonnage, the fleet of fish carriers in 2006 was less than half that of 1990, as recently built fish carriers have been much smaller than their predecessors. Moreover, scrapped vessels have on the whole been much larger than those built to replace them.
An overall review of the state of marine fishery resources confirms that the proportions of overexploited, depleted and recovering stocks have remained relatively stable in the last 10–15 years, after the noticeable increasing trends observed in the 1970s and 1980s with the expansion of fishing effort. In 2007, about 28 percent of stocks were either overexploited (19 percent), depleted (8 percent) or recovering from depletion (1 percent) and thus yielding less than their maximum potential owing to excess fishing pressure. A further 52 percent of stocks were fully exploited and, therefore, producing catches that were at or close to their maximum sustainable limits with no room for further expansion. Only about 20 percent of stocks were moderately exploited or underexploited with perhaps a possibility of producing more. Most of the stocks of the top ten species, which together account for about 30 percent of world marine capture fisheries production in terms of quantity, are fully exploited or overexploited. The areas showing the highest proportions of fully-exploited stocks are the Northeast Atlantic, the Western Indian Ocean and the Northwest Pacific. Overall, 80 percent of the world fish stocks for which assessment information is available are reported as fully exploited or overexploited and, thus, requiring effective and precautionary management. As stated before in The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture, the maximum wild capture fisheries potential from the world’s oceans has probably been reached, and a more closely controlled approach to fisheries management is required, particularly for some highly migratory, straddling and other fishery resources that are exploited solely or partially in the high seas.
Accounting for more than 10 million tonnes in 2006, inland fisheries contributed 11 percent of global capture fisheries production, and landings from inland waters remain essential and irreplaceable elements in the diets of both rural and urban people in many parts of the world, especially in developing countries. Although global landings from inland fisheries have grown continuously, there are few examples of collapsing fisheries, and a number of fish stocks, especially in Latin America, remain lightly exploited. Thus, adopting a precautionary approach, the fisheries could be developed further.
Results from five case studies of river and lake fisheries show that inland fisheries are highly complex and that, where ecosystem processes remain largely undisturbed, stock dynamics are basically controlled by environmental processes and factors external to the fisheries, such as natural fluctuations in climate, flood patterns, and variations in nutrient inputs (whether natural or resulting from pollution). However, anthropogenic ecosystem impacts in the form of species introductions, pollution, habitat fragmentation and changes in the flood cycle can reduce the resilience of fish stocks to fishing pressure. Inland fisheries management requires an ecosystem approach, particularly in the catchment areas of large lake and river systems. The values and benefits of inland fisheries can be increased if such fisheries are protected through more effective governance and management.
In 2006, more than 110 million tonnes (77 percent) of world fish production was used for direct human consumption. Almost all of the remaining 33 million tonnes was destined for non-food products, in particular the manufacture of fishmeal and fish oil. In 2006, 48.5 percent of the fish destined for human consumption was in live and fresh form, which is often the most preferred and highly priced product form. Fifty-four percent (77 million tonnes) of the world’s fish production underwent some form of processing. Seventy-four percent (57 million tonnes) of this processed fish was used for manufacturing products for direct human consumption in frozen, cured and prepared or preserved form, and the rest for non-food uses. Freezing is the main method of processing fish for food use, accounting for 50 percent of total processed fish for human consumption in 2006, followed by prepared and preserved (29 percent) and cured fish (21 percent). The utilization and processing of fish production have diversified significantly in the last two decades, particularly into high-value fresh and processed products, fuelled by changing consumer tastes and advances in technology, packaging, logistics and transport. The quantity of fish used as raw material for fishmeal in 2006 was about 20.2 million tonnes, representing a 14 percent decrease compared with 2005, and still well below the peak level of more than 30 million tonnes recorded in 1994. Another emerging application of fish, crustaceans and other marine organisms is as a source of bioactive molecules for the pharmaceutical industry.
Fish and fishery products are highly traded, with more than 37 percent (live weight equivalent) of total production entering international trade as various food and feed products. World exports of fish and fishery products reached US$85.9 billion in 2006.
In real terms (adjusted for inflation), exports of fish and fishery products increased by 32.1 percent in the period 2000–06. Exports of fish for human consumption have increased by 57 percent since 1996. Available data for 2007 indicate further strong growth to reach about US$92 billion. Although some weakening in demand was registered in late 2007 and early 2008, as turmoil from the financial sector started to affect consumer confidence in major markets, the long-term trend for the trade in fish is positive, with a rising share of both developed and developing country production arriving in international markets. Prices of fishery products followed the general upward trend of all food prices in the course of 2007 and early 2008. This is the first time in decades that real prices of fish have increased. China further consolidated its position as the leading fish exporter with exports amounting to US$9.0 billion in 2006 and US$9.3 billion in 2007. China’s fishery exports have increased remarkably since the early 1990s owing to its growing fishery production, as well as the expansion of its fish-processing industry. China has also experienced a significant increase in its fishery imports in the past decade. In 2006, it was the sixth-largest importer with US$4.1 billion in fishery imports. In 2007, this figure rose to US$4.5 billion, partly owing to imports of raw material for processing and re-export. The fishery net exports of developing countries (i.e. the total value of their exports less the total value of their imports) continue to be of vital importance to the economies of many fish-exporting developing countries. They have increased significantly in recent decades, growing from US$1.8 billion in 1976 to US$24.6 billion in 2006. The contribution of farmed products to international trade has grown considerably, with export growth rates for species such as catfish and tilapia now exceeding 50 percent per year. These species are entering new markets where, only a few years ago, they were practically unknown. This highlights the potential for further growth in the production, trade and consumption of species and products that respond to the consumers’ needs for moderately-priced white-meat fillets.
Preliminary estimates for 2006 indicate a slight increase of global per capita fish supply, to about 16.7 kg, after 16.4 kg in 2005. World apparent per capita fish consumption has been steadily increasing from an average of 9.9 kg in the 1960s, 11.5 kg in the 1970s, 12.5 kg in the 1980s, 14.4 kg in the 1990s, reaching 16.4 kg in 2005. However, this increase has not been evenly distributed across regions and it has mainly been due to increased apparent consumption in China, for which there is an impending revision of production statistics. In the last three decades, the per capita fish supply has remained almost static in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) but has risen dramatically in China and in the Near East/North Africa region. It is estimated that fish provides at least 50 percent of total animal protein intake in some small island developing states, as well as in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Equatorial Guinea, French Guiana, the Gambia, Ghana, Indonesia and Sierra Leone. The contribution of fish proteins to total world animal protein supplies rose from 13.7 percent in 1961 to a peak of 16.0 percent in 1996, before declining somewhat to 15.3 percent in 2005. Corresponding figures for the world, excluding China, show an increase from 12.9 percent in 1961 to 15.4 percent in 1989, slightly declining since then to 14.7 percent in 2005. Whereas fish provided about 7.6 percent of animal protein in North and Central America and more than 11 percent in Europe, in Africa it supplied around 19 percent, in Asia nearly 21 percent and in the LIFDCs including China about 19 percent.
Fisheries management poses challenges for all countries, especially those that are capacity poor. In some countries, improvements in resource management are proceeding hand-in-hand with public-sector reform and measures to promote better governance. These outcomes are increasingly being incentive-linked to the provision of development assistance. A key fisheries management issue is the lack of progress with the reduction of fishing capacity and related harmful subsidies. The 2007 session of the FAO Committee on Fisheries (COFI) referred to the lack of progress in this area and the need to match fishing capacity with sustainable harvesting levels. The United Nations General Assembly Resolution 62/177 in 2007 deplored the fact that fish stocks in many parts of the world are overfished or subject to sparsely regulated fishing effort. The relationship between excess capacity and illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing was also highlighted in COFI, the United Nations General Assembly and regional fora. There was only limited progress in the implementation of measures inter alia to mainstream the precautionary and ecosystem approaches to fisheries, eliminate bycatch and discards, regulate bottom-trawl fisheries, manage shark fisheries, and deal with IUU fishing in a comprehensive manner. A sharp focus on capacity building for fisheries management is a priority both for developing and developed countries. A further and important reason to promote capacity building occurs where regional cooperation and collaboration underpin the implementation of agreements. Regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs), the cornerstones of international fisheries governance, are struggling to fulfil their mandates despite concerted efforts to improve their performance. This situation results partly from the frameworks within which they operate and partly from an apparent lack of political will by members to implement decisions in a timely manner. In an effort to improve their effectiveness, many RFMOs are implementing performance reviews. Steps have been taken, or are being taken, to establish new RFMOs where none existed previously. Once these are established, nearly all of the world’s major fish stocks will be covered by RFMOs, the major exception being straddling stocks in the Southwest Atlantic Ocean. International cooperation is strengthened and many problems resolved through consultation and the timely exchange of information. For RFMOs, such exchanges are critical in dealing with common issues such as IUU fishing and the harmonization of data formats. FAO and non-FAO regional fishery bodies (RFBs) have met biennially since 1999 to consider matters of common concern and to learn how different bodies handle and resolve similar problems. These meetings marked a watershed in cooperation among RFBs. In 2007, the nature and scope of cooperation was taken a step further with the First Meeting of Regional Fishery Body Secretariats Network. The international dimension of aquaculture governance is gradually gaining ground.
There is an extensive array of international agreements, standards and procedures already in place for various aspects of aquaculture and its value chain elsewhere. Compliance with some of these agreements, standards and procedures is mandatory, and recognized competent authorities are empowered to verify compliance. New disciplines governing the use of subsidies in the fisheries sector are being negotiated in the World Trade Organization (WTO), and much progress has been achieved since the negotiations were launched.
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*Autor: Green Facts

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