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Global fish consumption is way up: FAO

FAO’s latest report finds global fish consumption is high but fish stocks have not improved


Rome – Fish now supplies more than three billion people with at least 15 per cent of their average animal protein intake.

In fact, consumers around the world now consume about 17 kg per person on average of fish per year.

Those are two findings from the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) State of the World’s Fisheries and Aquaculture report released late last month.

But the report also stresses that the status of global fish stocks has not improved.

The increase in consumption, says the report, is mainly due to the ever-growing production of aquaculture that is set to overtake capture fisheries as a source of food fish.

Fish stocks

The overall percentage of overexploited, depleted or recovering fish stocks in the world’s oceans has not dropped and 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 urgently rebuilt, says the report.

On the other end of the scale, 15 per cent of the stock groups monitored by FAO were estimated to be underexploited (three per cent) or moderately exploited (12 per cent) and therefore able to produce more than their current catches.

Sustainable management

The increasing demand for fish highlights the need for the sustainable management of aquatic resources. The report recommends an ecosystem approach to fisheries, which is an integrated approach for balancing societal objectives with the state of the fishery and its natural and human environment.

Fish sector snapshots

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

Fish products continue to be the most-traded of food commodities, worth a record US$102 billion in 2008, up nine per cent from 2007.

Total world production of fish and fish products rose from 140 million tons in 2007 to 145 million tons in 2009, according to the FAO report. Much of the fish now comes from aquaculture, which is growing at the rate of almost seven per cent a year.