Global fish consumption hits record high, according to UN report

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 8 July 2016 in News

Data from the Food and Agriculture Organization found per capita consumption has surpassed 20kg per year for the first time

Fish - credit: PA

Global fish consumption has hit a record high, according to a new UN report.

Data from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) found per capita consumption has surpassed 20kg per year for the first time, with the body warning that meeting ever growing demand for fish will be “immensely challenging”.

The report, the State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture, says that growth in fish consumption has enhanced people’s diets around the world through diversified and nutritious food, providing more than 3.1 billion people with almost 20 per cent of their average per capita intake of animal protein.


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Increased global consumption has been met by growth in the aquaculture industry.

It says the state of the world’s marine fish stocks has deteriorated, despite progress in some areas, with the share of fish stocks within biologically sustainable levels decreasing from 90 per cent in 1974 to 68 per cent in 2013.

The report says: “Growth in the global supply of fish for human consumption has outpaced population growth in the past five decades, increasing at an average annual rate of 3.2 percent in the period 1961–2013, double that of population growth, resulting in increasing average per capita availability.

“World per capita apparent fish consumption increased from an average of 9.9 kg in the 1960s to 14.4 kg in the 1990s and 19.7 kg in 2013, with preliminary estimates for 2014 and 2015 pointing towards further growth beyond 20 kg.”

It found 31.4 percent of fish stocks were estimated as fished at a biologically unsustainable level and were therefore overfished.

The proportion of stocks fished at biologically unsustainable levels increased, especially in the late 1970s and 1980s, from 10 percent in 1974 to 26 percent in 1989.

After 1990, the number of stocks fished at unsustainable levels continued to increase, albeit more slowly.

It found the ten most-productive species accounted for about 27 percent of the world’s marine capture fisheries production in 2013.

The report found that 2014 saw consumption of fish produced by the aquaculture sector over take that of wild caught fish for the first time.

China represents more than 60 per cent of world aquaculture production.

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