Aquaculture Continues to Gain on Wild Fish Capture

Michael Renner | Apr 24, 2014

According to preliminary estimates by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), total global fish production was expected to reach an all-time high of 160 million tons in 2013, up from 157.9 million tons in 2012.1 This figure includes a projected wild capture of 90 million tons, down from 91.3 million tons in the previous year and from 93.7 million tons in 2011.2

Wild capture has stagnated since the mid-1990s, reflecting the fact that many regional fisheries are at or even above their maximum sustainable catch levels.3 In sharp contrast, aquaculture has expanded rapidly. Production from fish farming increased about 10-fold since 1984, reaching 66.6 million tons in 2012 and a projected 70 million tons in 2013.4 (See Figure 1.) Aquaculture thus accounts for 44 percent of total fishery output (and for 49 percent of fish meant for direct human consumption), up from 8 percent in 1984.5

Fisheries Figure 1

In the 1980s and 1990s, aquaculture grew by more than 10 percent annually, although the rate dropped to 6 percent in the decade after 2000.6 A new World Bank report, Fish to 2030, predicts that 62 percent of food fish will come from aquaculture by 2030, with the fastest growth likely to come from tilapia, carp, and catfish.7

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