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Tuesday, 25 February 2014 17:37

Fishing-globeGlobal production of fish and seafood is expected to increase further in 2013 to 160m tonnes from 157m tonnes in 2012. Aquaculture plays an important role in this production: in 2013 FAO estimates suggest that just under half the production of fish for human consumption will come from the aquaculture industry, while a recent report from the World Bank predicts that by 2030 that share will have risen to almost two thirds. Growth in the production of farmed fish will be driven by increases in the volumes of tilapia, carp and catfish. Tilapia production in particular is expected to reach over 7m tonnes by 2030, almost twice the volume in 2010.


Fish is one of the most internationally traded commodities; the 2012 value of net exports (exports minus imports) from developing countries at USD35bn significantly exceeds the values of other highly traded agricultural commodities such as rice, tea, coffee, and tobacco. Audun Lem, Chief of FAO’s Products, Trade and Marketing Branch, expects the proportion of production that is traded internationally to be around 37%. Developing countries are responsible for 54% of the value of global seafood exports estimated in 2013 to be USD136bn. China, Thailand, and Vietnam are today among the most prolific exporters of seafood. But these and neighbouring  countries are also increasingly going to be consumers of fish. Asian countries in south and south east Asia as well as China and Japan  are set to constitute an ever larger share of global food fish consumption. China alone is predicted to account for 38% by 2030, while for Asia as a whole the proportion is expected to be 70%. Anticipating this demand China and other nations are investing heavily in aquaculture.


As more fish is processed for export one of the side effects has been an increase in the quantity of by-products, heads, guts, fins, and backbones. These are sources of nutrition as well as of economic value particularly when they can be converted into products for human nutrition or into fishmeal and fishoil. Greater utilisation of fish by-products to produce fishmeal and fishoil could also reduce the dependence on whole fish, such as the small pelagics, freeing some of it up for direct human consumption.