Outlook for fish to 2020

meeting global demand

The seemingly inexhaustible oceans have proved to be finite after all. Landings of wild fish have leveled off since the mid-1980s, and many stocks of fish are fished so heavily that their future is threatened. And yet the world’s appetite for fish has continued to increase, particularly as urban populations and incomes grow in developing countries. Aquaculture—fish farming—has arrived to meet this increased demand. Production of fish from aquaculture has exploded in the past 20 years and continues to expand around the world. But will aquaculture be sufficient to provide affordable fish to the world over the next 20 years? And what environmental and poverty problems will aquaculture face as it expands? Using a global model of supply and demand for food and feed commodities, this report projects the likely changes in the fisheries sector over the next two decades given present trends. As prices for most food commodities fall, fish prices are expected to rise, reflecting demand for fish that outpaces the ability of the world to supply it. Alternative scenarios using different assumptions are also investigated.
The model shows that developing countries will consume and produce a much greater share of the world’s fish in the future, and trade in fish commodities will also increase. As aquaculture expands, especially in developing countries, environmental concerns such as effluent pollution, escaped farmed fish, land conversion, and pressure on stocks from fishmeal demand will only increase with time unless technologies and policies promote sustainable intensification. And small, poor producers are at risk of being excluded from rapidly growing export markets unless ways can be found to facilitate affordable certification of food safety and environmentally sound production.

Delgado, Christopher L.
Wada, Nikolas
Rosegrant, Mark W.
Meijer, Siet
Ahmed, Mahfuzuddin
Published date: 
WorldFish Center
Series number: 
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