Nature and Biodiversity

Aquaculture accounts for half of the world's fish supply

Asia accounted for the majority of the nearly 60 million jobs in fisheries and aquaculture worldwide in 2020.

Asia accounted for the majority of the nearly 60 million jobs in fisheries and aquaculture worldwide in 2020. Image: Unsplash/Sense Atelier

Felix Richter
Data Journalist, Statista
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  • Around 49% of the world's supply of fish, crustaceans and molluscs was farmed rather than caught in 2020, up from 13% in 1990.
  • Surging global demand for fish has been at odds with efforts to avoid overfishing and preserve marine wildlife.
  • Asia accounted for the majority of the nearly 60 million jobs in fisheries and aquaculture worldwide in 2020.

Global fisheries and aquaculture production totaled 177.8 million tonnes in 2020 according to a report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). That's up more than 80 percent from 1990 levels, as fish and other types of marine animals play an integral role in global food security and nutrition, while providing a livelihood to tens of millions of households around the world.

Surging global demand has been at odds with efforts to avoid overfishing and preserve marine wildlife, however, which is why the role of aquaculture has massively increased over the past three decades while fishery captures have remained relatively stable. In 2020, 49 percent of the world's supply of fish, crustaceans and molluscs was farmed rather than caught, up from 13 percent in 1990 and 26 percent in 2000. While carp, salmon, oysters and shrimp are among the species often farmed in aquaculture, anchovies, pollock, tuna, herring and cod are still mostly captured in the wild.

According to the FAO, 89 percent of the global production of aquatic animals were used for human consumption, with the remaining 11 percent largely used to produce fishmeal and fish oil. In 2020, China was the biggest producer of fish and other marine animals by far. The country accounted for 15 percent of global capture and 57 percent of aquaculture production, as all of Asia accounted for 84 percent of the nearly 60 million jobs in fisheries and aquaculture worldwide.

A graphic showing how aquaculture accounts for half of the world's fish supply.
While carp, salmon, oysters and shrimp are among the species often farmed in aquaculture, anchovies, pollock, tuna, herring and cod are still mostly captured in the wild. Image: Statista.
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