Global Fish Production Continues to Rise

Stephanie Pappas | May 20, 2010

Total global fish production, including wild capture and aquaculture, rose to approximately 159 million tons in 2008, the most recent year with data.1 This is a 1.27 percent increase from 2007 production levels.2 (See Figure 1.) Aquaculture, after growing steadily for the last four decades, now contributes nearly half of the fish produced worldwide and is expected to catch up to wild capture by 2012.3 Overall, 77 percent of fish production is for human consumption; the remainder is used for non-food production, mostly in the fishmeal and fish oil industries and for livestock feed.4

In 2006, the average global per capita fish production was 3.3 tons per year.5 Some regions, however, had per capita production rates well above that. Europe and Oceania reported per capita output at 21.4 and 25.1 tons per year respectively.6 While the Asia region only produced 2.5 tons per year per person, it does contain 85.8 percent of the world’s fishers and fish farmers.7 In stark contrast, Europe and Oceania only have 1.7 and 0.1 percent of the world’s fishers and fish farmers.8

Global per capita fish consumption has been increasing steadily from an average of 9.9 kilograms in the 1960s to an average of 14.4 kilograms in the 1990s and 17.1 kilograms in 2009.9 Fish provided about 7.6 percent of the animal protein consumed by humans in North and Central America, more than 11 percent in Europe, 19 percent in Africa, and 21 percent in Asia.10 Rising incomes, improved infrastructure, and diversification in diets are pushing developing countries toward significantly higher fish product consumption.11 In many small island developing nations and coastal countries, such as Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Ghana, fish supply at least 50 percent of the total animal protein intake.12 Fish and fishmeal also provide a crucial and cheap source of animal protein and micronutrients for HIV/AIDS patients in developing countries.13

The Worldwatch Institute is an independent research organization known around the world for its accessible, fact-based analysis of critical global issues. Learn More