Rabat – The latest report from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations shows that the global capture of fish is in decline. The world caught 90.9 million tons of fish in 2016, down from 92.7 million tons in 2015. Total global fisheries and aquaculture production reached 170.9 million tonnes in 2016, with aquaculture representing 47 percent of that total.
The total incomes of fisheries and aquaculture production in 2016 was estimated at USD 362 billion, of which USD 232 billion was from aquaculture production.
In 2016, human consumption from fish jumped to 20.3kg per capita in comparison to 10kg in the 1960s. This development is mainly due to the aquaculture growth.
The report ranked China as the leader of major fish producing countries, with 15.2 million tonnes of fish in 2016. Indonesia follows, with 6.1 million tonnes. The United States of America and Russian Federation are ranked 3rd and 4th, with a production amount estimated at 4.9 million tonnes and 4.5 million tonnes, respectively.
Morocco is 13th globally and first in Africa, with 1.4 million tonnes of fish production, showing an industry growth of 6 percent over the past two years.
Over the past two years, China and Morocco were the largest exporters of octopus. Japan, the United States and Mediterranean European countries like Spain and Italy are the most important consumer markets.
In aquaculture, China is the top produce. In 2016, China farmed 49.2 million tons of fish. India comes in second, with 5.7 million tons.
Morocco’s fish production depends almost entirely on fisheries; it produced only 1000 tons of aquaculture fish in 2016. Egypt’s aquaculture production is the top in Africa, with 1.4 million tons in 2016. Both Morocco and Egypt are expected to double aquaculture production by 2030.
Risks and Challenges
However, the fisheries and aquaculture sector is facing some challenges, including the need to reduce the amount of fish stocks fished beyond biological sustainability.
Moreover, with the emergence of new technologies in fisheries sector, the opportunities for improved fishing practices have multiplied. They can be used to select and target species, as well as reduce the loss of fishing gear. They make it possible to collect more information and use it more efficiently and effectively, increasing the predicted capacity.
For some fishers and aquaculture farmers, new technologies have also created obstacles for them, due to their high price point.
However, if abused, new technologies can also facilitate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing or can increase fishing power in general, and thus, the overexploitation of resources.
To ensure the appropriate use of these new technologies, an effective management is in place to enhance the sector and improve the sustainability of fisheries.
Climate change and marine pollution is another challenge that is negatively impacting the fishery sector. Many marine species are moving towards the poles, away from the rising heat at the equator, and into deeper water. An increase of fish density at higher latitudes causes a decrease in fish richness in tropical regions and lack of fish in inland waters.