I just, presumably somewhat delayed, received the latest issue of Marine Resource Economics (Vol. 23, No. 4, 2008) . It’s a special issue on aquaculture (fish farming). There I found an interesting graph that relates to my earlier post on world fish production. The introductory piece (‘Aquaculture – Opportunities and Challenges,’ written by Asche, Guttormsen, and Tveteras) features a graph of world fish production from 1970 to 2006:
In contrast to the somewhat confusing graph from The Economist (see earlier post), it is clear from this graph that fisheries has leveled off since the late eigthies, while there is steady growth in farmed fish production. According to the article, farmed fish represented half of the fish produced for human consumption in 2008.
Since 1970, world fish productin has on average increased with roughly 3.5% per year and, from the graph, shows no sign of leveling off. To the contrary, farmed fish production has increased with approximately 12.5% per year since 1990! Indeed, aquaculture has been ‘the world’s fastes growing animal-based food sector during the last decades,’ according to the article authors. In comparison, the current global population growth rate is approximately 1.2% (see U.S. Census Bureau), and is expected to fall in the next forty years. Presumably, more and more people have started to, and will in the future, eat more fish.
Not all wild fish caught is used as food for humans, however; a substanial part of it goes into the production of farmed fish, for example. Further, more and more people eat more and more as developing countries moves out of poverty; world food consumption by humans will likely rise faster than the population grows. I’m not sure the authors have thought of these things, but they are anyhow optimistic on behalf of aquaculture’s growth prospects:
Given the status of global fisheries, with most large fish stocks being fully exploited or over-exploited, aquaculture production must increase in order to maintain or increase the global seafood supply per capita. Fortunately, the aquaculture sector seems well positioned to succeed in this respect.