Fish Farming Continues to Grow as World Fisheries Stagnate

World seafood production neared 160 million tons in 2006, the last year for which there are data.1 (See Figure 1.) The growth over the previous year was entirely due to increased fish farming, or aquaculture, which increased by more than 3 million tons, an annual addition that has been fairly consistent over the last 10 years.2 In contrast, fish caught in the wild declined for the second year in a row and dropped to almost 4 million tons below the peak catch in 2000.3

About 75 percent of the fish caught and produced each year are destined for human consumption.4 This adds up to about 16.5 kilograms of fish per person annually on a global scale.5 In 2004, more than 2.6 billion people depended on fish for at least 20 percent of their animal protein.6

People in China eat the most fish, with an average 25.8 kilograms live weight equivalent per person, compared with a figure of only 8.2 kilograms in Africa.7 People in North and Central America eat 18.6 kilograms, while Euro­peans consume 19.9 kilograms a year.8 Not surprisingly, people who live in coastal areas eat more fish than others in the same country or region; in Oceania, per capita consumption is 23.5 kilograms.9 Differences within continents are also common: in the United States, the average fish consumption is 24.2 kilograms while in Mexico it is 11.6 kilograms; in Spain, the figure is 42.9 kilograms, compared with 34.3 kilo­grams in France, 29.5 kilograms in Sweden, and 19.8 kilograms in the United Kingdom.10

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