Aquaculture expected to grow 40 percent worldwide by 2030
Published on Aug 15, 2018

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, aquaculture is set to increase by 40 percent worldwide by 2030. The report also notes that 37 countries were producing more farmed than wild-caught fish in 2016. With 5.8 percent annual growth rate during the period 2001–2016, aquaculture continues to grow faster than other major food production sectors worldwide, but has slowed some since its peak in the 1980s and 1990s.

Fish farming continues to grow throughout the world.

The FAO's most recent report, released earlier this summer, highlights a number of important data points in the growth of aquaculture worldwide. A few additional items to consider in this year's report:

• World population will grow to 9 billion people by 2050. The global food production systems - including aquaculture - must grow and adjust to accommodate that population, through increased production and reduced waste. Other challenges facing the aquaculture industry include a diminishing supply of

• Nearly 60 million people globally were engaged in capture fisheries and aquaculture in 2016, with 19.3 million people engaged in aquaculture and 40.3 million people engaged in fisheries. The proportion of those employed in aquaculture increased from 17 to 32 percent overall since 1990.

• Seafood consumption per capita has grown from 20 lbs per year in 1961 to nearly 45 lbs per year in 2015, increasing at an average rate of roughly 1.5 percent per year. Preliminary estimates for 2016 and 2017 point to further growth in per capita consumption.

• Global aquaculture production (including aquatic plants) in 2016 was 110.2 million metric tons. With capture fishery relatively flat in terms of growth over the past 30 years, aquaculture continues to be responsible for growth in the supply of seafood worldwide.

Growth of aquaculture worldwide over the past 26 years. Image courtesy of FAO of the UN.

Aquaculture Challenges

The FAO report highlighted some challenges, most of which are well-known in the industry, including:

Climate change. The Paris Agreement of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) aims to strengthen the global response to climate change, and is noted as an integral part of the agenda to grow aquaculture over the next decade. The report notes that ocean fish production is expected to decline by 6 percent by 2100 and more in tropical zones where climate change is expected to have a deeper impact.

Unsustainable Fishing. The percentage of stocks fished at biologically unsustainable levels increased from 10 percent in 1974 to 33.1 percent in 2015. Overfishing of forage fish used to feed farm-raised fish continues to be an argument raised by opponents of aquaculture expansion.

Fish Loss & Waste. Although loss or waste of fish between landing and consumption decreased overall in 2016, it still accounts for an estimated 27 percent of landed fish.

The 2018 edition of The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture report emphasizes the sector’s role in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals, and measurement of progress towards these goals.