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Humber Seafood Summit: Aquaculture Production to Overtake Capture Fisheries by 2022

22 September 2014

GLOBAL - Asia is driving the production and demand of fisheries and aquaculture, said Nianjun Shen, from the FAO, speaking at the Humber Seafood Summit 2014, held in Grimsby, UK, writes Lucy Towers, TheFishSite Editor.

Supply of capture fish is now fairly stable, said Mr Shen. Only 29 per cent of fish stocks are now still overfished which is an improvement. However, there looks to be limited potential for any expansion in the sector as only 10 per cent of stocks underfished.

There is also unlikely to be production increases from in-land stocks as many of them lack available data and are thought to be depleted.

Aquaculture vs Capture

At present, capture fisheries are still ahead of aquaculture production at around 90 million tonnes. 

However, by 2022 FAO and OECD forecast that there will be an increase in fish production led by aquaculture.

Aquaculture will also contribute more to fish consumption. This year (2014) marked the turning point when aquaculture started to contribute more than capture fisheries to fish consumption.

Trade and Market Access

High import tariffs for developing countries continues to limit market access in today's market.

More technical assistance is required to help developing countries so they can meet food safety demands that are required in many developed markets.

Mr Shen noted that traceability is also important for access in today's market but the costs of certification schemes, which guarantee sustainability, are costly and so many developing countries are struggling to meet them.

In this way, certification schemes have become a trade barrier, as they are preventing many countries from producing products that are in demand and from trading with countries that require the guarantee of origin and/or sustainability.

To try and help this situation, the FAO is working on best practice guidelines and projects to find soloutions to the concerns of developing countries.

As more certification schemes are created, however, this will lead to the value of each scheme/label to drop, which is good news for developing countries.


At present, poultry is the only meat consumption which is growing faster than fish, said Mr Shen.

Freshwater fish consumption is also growing the fastest out of the fish groups.


China reported a strong growth in imports in 2013. The country is the fourth biggest importer and the biggest exporter of fish. This trend is set to continue as the country experiences steadily increasing consumption.

The EU is currently one of the most important markets and is experiencing continued growth. A rising population and stable consumption means the EU is likely to experience an increase in its dependence on imports.

The US has increasing long term growth and recently overtook Japan as the number one fish importing country. It also has a stable consumption and an increasing population so its imports are likely to rise.


Fish prices are generally on a upwards trend but they are expected to rise less than meat, said Mr Shen.

Lamb and beef prices are both forecast to be higher than fish in 2022 at around 4000-5000 (USD/T) compared with fish at a projected 4000-5000 (USD/T).

In conclusion, a supply increase is expected due to a forecast rise in aquaculture production. World trade is also expected to increase in which China will play a big role.

Lucy Towers

Lucy Towers
News Team - Editor

After graduating from The University of Sheffield, Lucy joined 5M in 2011 as part of the News Desk team. In 2012, she was promoted to editor of TheFishSite. With previous farming experience and a love for the great outdoors, Lucy has a passion for wildlife and the environment.

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