WORLD aquaculture production now accounts for 32% of total fisheries production, according to “The State of Food and Agriculture 2005,” a report published on Wednesday by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Most of the expansion has been attributable to China, which is now responsible for more than two-thirds of total aquaculture production in volume terms (28.9 million tonnes in 2003).
More than 38 million fishers and fish farmers gain their livelihoods from capture fisheries and aquaculture. Globally, fish provide about 15% of animal proteins consumed, with variations from an average 23% in Asia to approximately 18% in Africa and around 7% in Latin America and the Caribbean. Developments in the world supply of fish over the past decade have been dominated by trends in China, which has reported very strong growth in fish production, in particular from inland aquaculture, and has become the world’s largest fish producer.
Total world fisheries production in 2003 was 132.5 million tonnes, of which 42.3 million tonnes was from aquaculture. World capture fisheries production was 90.2 million tonnes, 3% below production in 2002. Most of the fluctuations in capture production in recent years have been the result of variations in catches of Peruvian anchoveta, which are driven by climatic conditions (i.e. the el Nino phenomenon). In 2003, China reported a production of 16.8 million tonnes, representing a slight increase compared with 2002. Peru (6.1 million tonnes), the United States (4.9 million tonnes), Indonesia (4.7 million tonnes) and Japan (4.6 million tonnes), were other large producers.
About 40% (live-weight equivalent) of world fisheries production enters international trade, with a value approaching $63 billion in 2003. Developing countries contributed slightly less than 50% of such exports, with the first 10 exporters accounting for two-thirds of the developing country total. The developed countries absorbed more than 80% of total world fisheries imports in value terms, with Japan and the United States together accounting for as much as 36% of the total. The importance of fisheries exports as a foreign currency earner for developing countries has increased significantly. Currently, cumulated net exports of fish and fish products from developing countries far exceed export earnings from major commodities such as coffee, bananas and rubber.
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