The production of wild and farm-raised fish, shellfish and algae reached record levels in 2020, and future increases could be vital to fighting world hunger, the Food and Agriculture Organization said Wednesday.
Driven by sustained growth in aquaculture, global fisheries and aquatic farming together hauled in 214 million tonnes, the UN agency said in a report.
The total first-sale value of 2020 production topped US$400 million, with US$265 million coming from aquaculture, a sector poised for further expansion.
These trend lines are good news for a world facing price hikes and food shortages due to the war in Ukraine, disrupted supply chains, and inflation.
“The growth of fisheries and aquaculture is vital in our efforts to end global hunger and malnutrition,” said FAO director Qu Dongyu.
But overfished oceans, climate change and pollution — if left unaddressed — could threaten that potential, the UN agency warned.
“Aquaculture growth has often occurred at the expense of the environment,” Qu noted.
Many shrimp farms in Vietnam, China and Cambodia, for example, have displaced mangrove forests that are nurseries for marine life and critical barriers against storm surges. Climate change poses additional challenges, experts say.
“Warming waters will create environments where there’s more likelihood of bacterial disease,” said Josh Madeira, director of fisheries and aquaculture policy at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
That means a sector already highly reliant on antibiotics will likely become even more so, he said.
Production of aquatic animals in 2020 — totaling 178 million tonnes — was evenly divided between fisheries and aquaculture, according to the FAO report.
The remaining 36 million tonnes was algae production.
Yields of fish, shrimp and other shellfish destined for human consumption are more than 60 percent higher than during the 1990s, far outpacing population growth, according to the report, released during the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon.
On average, people worldwide consume over 20 kilos of aquatic foods per year today, more than double the amount 50 years ago.
Globally, 17 percent of the protein consumed by humans comes from aquatic sources. In many Asian and African countries, that figure rises to more than 50 percent.
Wild and farmed food from the seas and inland waters are also a critical source of essential omega-3 fatty acids and micronutrients, recent research has shown.
“Aquatic foods are increasingly recognized for their key role in food security and nutrition,” Qu said. Nearly 90 percent of aquatic animal production is for human consumption, with the rest destined for non-food uses such as fishmeal and fish oil.
Asian countries were the source of 70 percent of the world’s fisheries and aquaculture of aquatic animals in 2020.
China remains by far the top fisheries producer, followed by Indonesia, Peru, Russia, the US and Vietnam.
So-called capture fisheries of commercial species in the wild — including tuna, cod, salmon and especially anchoveta — dropped by four percent in 2020 compared to the average of the previous three years.
Part of the drop can be attributed to COVID-related disruptions, but long-term decline is due to the pressures of overfishing, experts say. Catch levels peaked in the mid-1990s, and have — with fluctuations — stagnated since then.
“The FAO estimates that 34 percent of caught fish come from overfished stocks,” University of British Columbia economist and fisheries expert Rashid Sumaila said.
“But they are very conservative,” he added. “Independent studies put that figure at 50 percent.”
Aggravating the problem is some US$34 billion dollars annually in government subsidies. Earlier this month, the WTO took preliminary steps to reduce these handouts to industry, but experts say the measures will have limited effect and take years to implement.
Aug 15 to Aug 21 Within hours, a minor traffic dispute between two taxi drivers had escalated into a full-out street brawl involving hundreds of combatants. Armed with metal bats, car locks and even tear gas, the midnight battle on Aug. 17, 1995 between Chuan Ming (全民) and Beiqu (北區) taxi drivers associations lasted for over four hours at the roundabout on Tingzhou Road (汀州路) in Taipei. Scattered clashes also broke out in other areas of the capital, as well as in what is today’s New Taipei City. The crowd dispersed around 4:30am, but peace lasted only a few hours. Around 7am, about
It’s baking hot in New York, which can only mean one thing for the city’s small mammal population: it’s splooting season. This week, with temperatures reaching 35 degrees Celsius, the city’s parks department urged residents not to worry about the health of squirrels seen sprawling on the ground, legs extended behind them like a person whose arms gave out halfway through a yoga class. “On hot days, squirrels keep cool by splooting (stretching out) on cool surfaces to reduce body heat,” the department tweeted. Perhaps even more remarkable than the phenomenon itself was the word the government agency used. Splooting? Is that
Demand for Taiwanese migrant workers in Singapore is booming: there are more than a thousand jobs on many Web sites, with advertisements for cabin crew, executive assistants, engineers, credit analysts, even auto mechanics, all at far more than they could earn in Taiwan. Most of us think of Taiwan as place that absorbs migrant workers, but we are also a place that is increasingly sending them out. This has important ramifications for the future of Taiwan. Last week, the government issued another one of its periodic warnings that certain overseas employers are actually enslaving Taiwanese into conducting Internet and phone scams,
When Zuo tested positive for COVID-19 while working as a cleaner in one of Shanghai’s largest quarantine centers, she hoped it wouldn’t be long before she could pick up the mop and start earning again. But four months on, she is still fighting to get her job back — one of scores of recovering COVID patients facing what labor rights activists and health experts say is a widespread form of discrimination in zero-COVID China. Using snap lockdowns and mass testing, China is the last major economy still pursuing the goal of stamping out the virus completely. Those who test positive, as well