In the first quarter of this year, FAO presented the biennial report “SOFIA 2022” with the analysis and relevant conclusions of the information collected in 2020. In this article, Aquaculture Magazine editors summarize the “key messages” the World Agency is sending with this report.
In the first quarter of this year, FAO presented the biennial report “SOFIA 2022” with the analysis and relevant conclusions of the information collected in 2020.
In general, it can be summarized that aquaculture continues to grow at a slower rate than in previous years, due to increased control of production in China for environmental reasons. The growth rate decreased from an average of 4.4% per year from 2010 to 2018 to 3.3% in 2018 – 2019 and 2.6% in 2019 – 2022.
“For its part, fisheries continue to decline, due in part to the influence of negative impacts such as overfishing, pollution of seas, oceans, rivers and lagoons, and the effects of climate change.”
Global seafood consumption continues to increase, despite a slight decline in 2020 due to the COVID -19 pandemic, with average per capita consumption expected to reach 21.4 kg in 2030. A slow growth considering that the average per capita consumption in 2019 was 20.5, which is considered a historical record.
This decrease represents a growth of 1.3% over the next ten years, or an average of 0.13% per year.
In this article, Aquaculture Magazine editors summarize the “key messages” the World Agency is sending with this report.
Global fisheries and aquaculture production is at a record high, and the sector will play an increasingly important role in providing food and nutrition in the future.
Total fisheries and aquaculture production will reach a record 214 million metric tonnes in 2020, including 178 million metric tonnes of aquatic animals and 36 million metric tonnes of algae, largely due to the growth of aquaculture, particularly in Asia.
The amount intended for human consumption (excluding seaweed) was 20.2 kg per capita, more than double the average of 9.9 kg per capita in the 1960s.
An estimated 58.5 million people were employed in the primary sector, including those employed in the subsistence and secondary sectors and their dependents, an estimated 600 million people depend at least partially on fisheries and aquaculture.
International trade in fisheries and aquaculture products generated about $151 billion in 2020, a decline from the record high of $165 billion in 2018, largely due to the outbreak of COVID-19.
Aquaculture has great potential to feed and sustain the world’s growing population. But growth must be sustainable.
In 2020, global aquaculture production reached a record 122.6 million metric tonnes with a total value of USD 281.5 billion. Aquatic animals accounted for 87.5 million tonnes and algae 35.1 million toness. In 2020, driven by expansion in Chile, China and Norway, global aquaculture production grew in all regions except Africa, where it increased in the top two producing countries, Egypt, and Nigeria.
The rest of Africa saw growth of 14.5% in 2019, and Asia continues to dominate global aquaculture, accounting for 91.6% of total production.
Aquaculture growth has often come at the expense of the environment. Developing sustainable aquaculture remains critical to meet the growing demand for aquatic food.
Global consumption of aquatic foods has increased significantly in recent years and will continue to increase.
Global consumption of aquatic foods (excluding algae) has increased at an average annual rate of 3.0% since 1961, compared with a population growth rate of 1.6%.
Per capita consumption of aquatic foods increased from an average of 9.9 kg in the 1960s to a record high of 20.5 kg in 2019, while declining slightly to 20.2 kg in 2020. Rising incomes and urbanization, improvements in postharvest practices, and changing dietary trends are projected to increase aquatic food consumption by 15%, resulting in an average of 21.4 kg per capita in 2030.
“Fishery resources continue to decline due to overfishing, pollution, poor management, and other factors, but landings from biologically sustainable stocks are increasing.”
The proportion of fishery stocks that are within biologically sustainable levels declined to 64.6% in 2019, down 1.2% from 2017; however, 82.5% of landings in 2019 came from biologically sustainable stocks, a 3.8% improvement over 2017.
Effective fisheries management has been shown to rebuild stocks and increase catches within ecosystem boundaries. Improving global fisheries management remains critical to restoring ecosystems to a healthy and productive state and ensuring longterm aquatic food supplies.
Rebuilding overfished stocks could increase fisheries production by 16.5 million metric tonnes and increase the contribution of marine fisheries to food security, nutrition, economic growth, and the well-being of coastal communities.
Reductions in the global fishing fleet continue, but more needs to be done to minimize overcapacity and ensure fisheries sustainability.
The total number of fishing vessels in 2020 was estimated at 4.1 million, a 10% decrease since 2015, reflecting efforts by countries, particularly China and European countries, to reduce global fleet size.
Asia still had the largest fishing fleet, accounting for about two-thirds of the total global fleet. However, fleet size reduction alone does not necessarily guarantee more sustainable outcomes, as changes in fishing efficiency can offset sustainability gains from fleet reduction.
Aquatic animal production is projected to grow another 14 percent by 2030.
It is critical that this growth goes hand in hand with protecting ecosystems, reducing pollution, protecting biodiversity, and ensuring social equity.
The FAO forecast for fisheries and aquaculture up to 2030 assumes an increase in production, consumption, and trade, albeit at slower growth rates. Total aquatic animal production is projected to reach 202 million metric tonnes in 2030, thanks largely to continued growth in aquaculture, which is expected to reach 100 million metric tonnes for the first time in 2027 and 106 million metric tonnes in 2030.
Global capture fisheries are projected to recover and increase 6% from 2020 to 96 million metric tonnes in 2030, driven by improved resource management, underfished stocks, and reduced discards, waste, and losses.
Millions of people depend on aquatic food systems for their livelihoods. But many small-scale producers, especially women, are vulnerable to precarious working conditions. Building their resilience is key to sustainability and equitable development.
Of the 58.5 million people who will be employed in the primary fisheries and aquaculture sector in 2020, 21% will be women, rising to about 50% of those employed throughout the aquatic value chain (including pre and post-harvest).
Although women play a critical role in fisheries and aquaculture, they make up a disproportionate share of workers in the informal, lowest-paid, least stable, and least skilled segments of the labour force and often face gender-based constraints that prevent them from fully realising and benefiting from their role in the sector.
Aquatic food systems are an effective solution. The Blue Transformation can address the twin challenges of food security and environmental sustainability.
FAO is committed to the Blue Transformation, a visionary strategy that aims to strengthen the role of aquatic food systems in feeding the world’s growing population by creating the legal, policy and technical frameworks needed for sustainable growth and innovation.
The Blue Transformation proposes a series of actions to promote the resilience of aquatic food systems and ensure that fisheries and aquaculture grow sustainably and leave no one behind, especially communities that depend on the sector.
Climate and environmentally friendly policies and practices, as well as technological innovations, are critical building blocks for the Blue Transformation.
The Blue Transformation requires the commitment of the public and private sectors if we are to achieve the United Nations Agenda.
United Nations 2030 Agenda, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic has reversed previously favourable trends. The Blue Transformation requires a commitment from governments, the private sector, and civil society to maximise the opportunities that fisheries and aquaculture offer.
The Blue Transformation aims to promote sustainable expansion and intensification of aquaculture, effective management of all fisheries, and enhancement of aquatic value chains. Proactive public and private partnerships are needed to improve production, reduce food loss, and waste, and increase equitable access to lucrative markets.
Consequently, aquatic foods need to be included in national food security and nutrition strategies, and initiatives are needed to raise consumer awareness of their benefits to improve availability and access.
References and sources consulted by the autor on the elaboration of this article are available under previous request to our editorial staff.