FAO: World Fisheries
November 22, 2022
The FAO reported global production of 178 million tons of aquatic animals and 36 million tons of algae in 2020. Fish and seafood were worth $200 billion in 2020, an average of $1.10 a pound, while algae was worth $0.50 a pound.
Fish, seafood, and algae can be consumed fresh or frozen, canned, or dried; some is used for a non-human food purposes, such as fish meal. About 90 percent of the aquatic animals caught or raised were consumed by humans. The largest share, 44 percent, was consumed fresh, followed by 35 percent that was frozen. The share of fish that are salted and dried is highest in developing countries.
90% of fish and seafood are consumed by humans, most often fresh or frozen
Average global fish and seafood consumption was 20 kilograms or 44 pounds per person in 2020, double average per capita consumption in the 1960s. Fish and seafood provided a sixth of human animal protein. Asians have the highest per capita consumption of fish and seafood of 25 pounds per person per year. Africans and Latin Americans have lower per capita consumption of 10 pounds per year.
Average per capita fish and seafood consumption is 20 kg or 44 lbs a year
|Region/economic class||Total aquatic food consumption (million tonnes, live weight equivalent)||Per capita aquatic food consumption (kg/capita/year)|
|World, excluding China||100.3||16.0|
|Latin America and the Caribbean||6.4||9.9|
There are two major ways to produce fish and seafood: catch or farm. The major story of the 21st century is the stable catch of wild fish and seafood, about 90 million tons a year, and the rising share of farmed fish and seafood, about 90 million tons a year.
Aquaculture accounts for half of the world’s fish and seafood tonnage
China accounts a third of the global fish and seafood volume, both caught and farmed, followed by Norway and Vietnam. A third of the world’s fish and seafood are exported, some 60 million tons worth $150 billion in 2020, making the 60 million tons traded worth $2,500 a ton or $1.25 a pound. Most of the fish and seafood that is traded is frozen.
The EU accounted for a third of global fish and seafood imports, followed by the US with 15 percent and China and Japan, 10 percent each. The top exporters of fish and seafood were China, 12 percent of global exports by value, followed by Norway, eight percent, and Vietnam, Chile, India, and Thailand, about five percent each.
Wild. Some 90 million tons of wild fish were caught in 2020, including 80 million tons from marine waters and 10 million tons from inland waters, by 4.1 million fishing boats, including 2.5 million that are motorized. Finfish are the most caught wild fish led by anchovies. The four high-value groups were tuna, cephalopods or mollusks such as squid and octopus, shrimp, and lobster.
The top 10 countries capturing the most fish were led by China, which accounted for 15 percent of the global catch, and followed by Indonesia and Peru, seven percent each. The top 10 capture-fish countries accounted for 57 percent of the global catch; only Bangladesh caught more wild fish inland than in the sea.
The top 10 countries accounted for 57% of wild fish caught
|Country||Share of global captures (cumulative %)|
|United States of America||45%|
In 1974, the FAO estimated that 90 percent of the world’s fish stocks were being fished within biologically sustainable levels. The share of fish stocks that are being fished sustainably has been declining, and was two-thirds in 2020.
⅓ of the world’s fish stocks were overfished in 2020
The most overfished fish stocks include those off of the western coast of South America and in the Mediterranean, where two-thirds of fish stocks are overfished. The most sustainable fish stocks are in the mid- and north-Pacific Ocean, where over 80 percent of fish stocks are sustainable.
A third of fish stocks off Peru and in the Mediterranean are sustainable
People. Some 60 million people worldwide are employed full or part time in fishing and seafood, including a third who were employed in aquaculture. Women are about 20 percent of those employed full- or part-time in fishing and seafood, and their share of the workforce is highest in aquaculture.
Almost 85 percent of the world’s fishing workforce is in Asia
|Fisheries and aquaculture|
Persons employed in aquaculture tend to be employed full time
Most fishing vessels are small; under 12 meters and with only one deck. The 45,000 fishing vessels that were more than 24 meters or 80 feet were only five percent of the motorized fishing fleet, but they caught most of the world’s caught fish.
Asia has 2.7 million fishing vessels or two-thirds of the total, including 560,000 Chinese vessels, down from over a million in 2013. Both the EU and China have reduced their fishing fleets.
There were 2.5 million motorized and 1.5 million non-motorized fishing boats in 2020
The FAO reported that two-thirds of the 10 most landed fishes are being fished within biologically sustainable levels: anchoveta, Alaska pollock, skipjack tuna, Atlantic herring, yellowfin, blue whiting, European pilchard, Pacific chub mackerel, Atlantic cod and large-head hairtail.
Aquaculture. Aquaculture produced 88 million tons of fish and seafood, half of 2020’s total, and all of the algae. The FAO projects that aquaculture will produce over half of the 200 million tons of aquatic animals expected in 2030.
The 60 million tons of farmed finfish, led by carp, catfish, salmon and tilapia, were worth $150 billion in 2020, the 18 million tons of farmed mollusks such as oysters and mussels were worth $30 billion, and the 11 million tons of farmed crustaceans including shrimp and crabs were worth $80 billion.
Aquaculture produces half of the world’s fish and seafood, and most of the inland fish
Fish can be farmed inland in fresh water or in coastal areas in marine or ocean salt water. The leading farmed fresh-water finfish by tonnage are various carp and tilapia, while the leading farmed finfish in salt water is salmon.
Carp are the leading farmed fresh water fish, and salmon the leading farmed saltwater fish
|2000||2005||2010||2015||2020||Percentage of total, 2020|
|Finfish in inland aquaculture|
|Grass carp, Ctenopharyngodon idellus||2,976.5||3,396.6||4,213.1||5,315.0||5,791.5||11.8|
|Silver carp, Hypophthalmichthys molitrix||3,034.7||3,690.0||3,972.0||4,713.6||4,896.6||10|
|Nile tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus||1,001.5||1,721.3||2,637.4||4,000.9||4,407.2||9|
|Common carp, Cyprinus carpio||2,410.4||2,666.3||3,331.0||4,025.8||4,236.3||8.6|
|Catla, Catla catla||602.3||1,317.5||2,526.4||2,313.4||3,540.3||7.2|
|Bighead carp, Hypophthalmichthys nobilis||1,438.9||1,929.5||2,513.6||3,109.1||3,187.2||6.5|
|Striped catfish, Pangasianodon hypophthalmus||113.2||411.2||1,749.4||2,083.2||2,520.4||5.1|
|Roho labeo, Labeo rohita||733.9||1,435.9||1,133.2||1,785.3||2,484.8||5.1|
|Clarias catfishes, Clarias spp.||48.8||149.5||343.3||923.7||1,249.0||2.5|
|Tilapias nei, Oreochromis spp.||123.9||199.3||449.6||929.9||1,069.9||2.2|
|Wuchang bream, Megalobrama amblycephala||445.9||477.2||629.2||723.2||781.7||1.6|
|Rainbow trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss||340.4||360.0||464.7||546.5||739.5||1.5|
|Black carp, Mylopharyngodon piceus||149.0||280.7||409.5||541.2||695.5||1.4|
|Largemouth black bass, Micropterus salmoides||0.2||140.3||179.5||321.5||621.3||1.3|
|Subtotal of 15 major species||14,618.2||19,973.5||26,689.7||33,976.3||38,970.1||79.3|
|Subtotal other species||3,546.6||4,260.1||6,337.7||8,535.7||10,150.4||20.7|
|Finfish in marine and coastal aquaculture|
|Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar||895.7||1,266.6||1,433.8||2,380.2||2,719.6||32.6|
|Milkfish, Chanos chanos||429.7||542.9||750.5||1,012.3||1,167.8||14|
|Mullets nei, Mugilidae||92.4||173.7||102.7||129.2||291.2||3.5|
|Gilthead seabream, Sparus aurata||87.3||110.8||142.3||168.8||282.1||3.4|
|Large yellow croaker, Larimichthys croceus||0.0||60.9||83.3||142.4||254.1||3|
|European seabass, Dicentrarchus labrax||60.7||90.9||118.0||149.1||243.9||2.9|
|Groupers nei, Epinephelus spp.||7.6||57.1||77.2||149.2||226.2||2.7|
|Coho(=Silver) salmon, Oncorhynchus kisutch||108.6||115.1||124.8||140.7||221.8||2.7|
|Rainbow trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss||155.3||202.0||287.7||204.1||220.1||2.6|
|Japanese seabass, Lateolabrax japonicus||0.6||79.6||104.8||120.6||196.9||2.4|
|Pompano, Trachinotus ovatus||0.0||0.0||80.0||110.0||160.0||1.9|
|Japanese amberjack, Seriola quinqueradiata||136.8||159.7||138.9||140.3||137.1||1.6|
|Nile tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus||1.6||5.3||20.3||49.8||107.4||1.3|
|Barramundi(=Giant seaperch), Lates calcarifer||18.1||27.0||52.7||68.7||105.8||1.3|
|Red drum, Sciaenops ocellatus||2.1||42.4||53.0||71.3||84.3||1|
|Subtotal of 15 major species||1,996.6||2,933.9||3,569.9||5,036.7||6,418.2||77|
A group of 11 NGOs organized into the Financial Transparency Coalition released a report in October 2022 that concluded illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing costs $25 billion a year, as IUU vessels account for up to 20 percent of the global fisheries catch. One hotbed for IUU fishing with foreign distant water fishing (DWF) fleets from China and other countries is the West Coast of Africa; eight of the top 10 IUU fishing fleets are Chinese.https://financialtransparency.org/half-illegal-fishing-vessels-operate-africa-majority-chinese-european-new-report/
Appendix Table 1. World fisheries yielded 180 million tons in 2020, half from aquaculture
|Average per year|
|Total world fisheries and aquaculture||110.7||134.3||162.6||178.9||177.4||177.8|
|Per capita apparent consumption (kg)||14.3||16.8||19.5||20.5||20.5||20.2|
|Exports – in quantity||39.6||51.6||61.4||66.8||66.6||59.8|
|Share of exports in total production||35.8%||38.5%||37.7%||37.3%||37.5%||33.7%|
|Exports – in value (USD 1 billion)||46.6||76.4||141.8||165.3||161.8||150.5|
The FAO aims for sustainable fishing