« October 2006 Table of Contents
Farming closes in on wild production
- Steven Hedlund
October 01, 2006
In just a few years, people around the world will likely be
eating more farmed seafood than wild seafood, says the Food and
Agriculture Organization's Subcommittee on Aquaculture, which
met in New Delhi, India, early last month.
"It won't be long," says Dr. Rohana Subasinghe, a senior
fishery resources officer for the FAO and secretary of the
Subcommittee on Aquaculture, who suspects aquaculture will
surpass wild production by 2012.
Aquaculture represented 43 percent of the global seafood
supply in 2004, up from 9 percent in 1980, according to a
report the FAO released at the meeting.
The world's dependence on aquaculture will continue to grow
because the world's population is increasing, seafood
consumption worldwide is rising and wild-seafood production has
leveled off, "probably for good," says Subasinghe.
About 100 billion pounds of farmed seafood worth $63 billion
were consumed worldwide in 2004, compared to roughly 132
billion pounds of wild seafood.
Asia grew 91.5 percent of the world's farmed seafood in
2004. China raised 69.6 percent, followed by India at 4.2
percent, the Philippines at 2.9 percent, Indonesia at 2.5
percent, Japan and Vietnam at 2.1 percent each and Thailand at
2 percent. North America grew only 1.3 percent of the world's
Aquaculture experienced its largest average annual growth
rate worldwide in the 1950s at 12.3 percent, followed by the
1990s at 10.5 percent and the 1980s at 8.6 percent. Between
2000 and 2004, aquaculture's worldwide annual growth rate
averaged 6.8 percent.
About 150 people from 50 countries attended last month's
third biennial meeting of the Committee on Fisheries'
Subcommittee on Aquaculture. The first meeting was held in
China, the second in Norway.
The third and fourth meetings will be held in Chile and
"The meeting serves two purposes," says George Kourous,
information officer for the FAO.
"On the one hand, it lets countries get together and engage
in policy debates and share perspectives and experiences,
explain their national [aquaculture] policies to one another,
iron out differences, come to agreement and establish closer
"At the same time, these meetings provide an opportunity for
FAO member countries to tell us where we should be focusing our
efforts. Their recommendations to us form the basis of our work
on aquaculture for the next two years."
Also at the meeting, the Subcommittee on Aquaculture
introduced a set of non-binding principles for responsible
shrimp farming that governments, NGOs and private companies can
use as a guide to certify shrimp as eco-friendly or
Its purpose is to harmonize the guidelines already
addressing the environmental and social aspects of shrimp
farming, says Subasinghe.
Shrimp exports from developing countries total $8.7 billion
The World Bank, World Wildlife Fund and Network for
Aquaculture Centres for Asia Pacific were among the
organizations that helped develop the principles. The
U.S.-based Global Aquaculture Alliance endorses the
- Steven Hedlund