Global production from wild capture fisheries and aquaculture is on a roll. It’s expected to set a new record in 2013 at 160 million metric tons, up from 157 million metric tons in 2012, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Between one third and 40% of all fish produced is now traded internationally, making fish and fisheries products one of the most-traded food commodities in the world, reports the FAO. “The record trade figures reflect the strong growth in aquaculture output and the high prices for a number of species such as salmon and shrimp,” said Audun Lem, Chief of FAO’s Products, Trade and Marketing Branch. “This is underpinned by firm underlying demand for fish products from world markets.” Lem also sees the fisheries sector as one of the most globalized and dynamic industries in world food production and said that “the proportion of fish production being traded internationally is significant, at around 37% in 2013.”
Exports are predicted to reach an all time high $136 billion in 2013. Developing countries continue to be a key player in the global fish trade as they play a major role in supplying world markets, accounting for 61% of all fish exports by quantity and 54% by value in 2012.
While these numbers show the good moment the industry is experiencing, serious challenges remain. Even though small-scale fishers and fish farmers constitute about 90% of the sector’s global workforce, small-scale fishing communities don’t receive all that they should in correlation.
Countries need to provide small-scale fishers with access to finance, insurance and market information, invest in infrastructure, strengthen small-scale producer and trader organizations, and ensure that national policies do not overlook or weaken the small-scale sector.
These numbers arrive on the heels of a World Bank report, ‘Fish To 2030; Prospects for Fisheries and Aquaculture,’ in which the organization said that aquaculture and fisheries will provide future food security which will be critical in feeding the growing population beyond 2030. Asia — including South Asia, South-East Asia, China and Japan — is projected to make up 70% of global fish consumption by that year so those challenges must be appropriately tackled in the next 15 years.