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UN: Record Seafood Consumption Not Sustainable

Aruna Dutt - Inter Press Service
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August 21, 2016

The UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) warns that global fish stocks cannot keep up with record consumption, with the average person now consuming 20 kilograms of fish a year.

“Life below water, which the Sustainable Development Agenda commits us to conserve, is a major ally in our effort to meet a host of challenges, from food security to climate change,” said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva.

The FAO’s annual report on The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture (SOFIA) found that global supply of fish for human consumption has outpaced human population growth in the past five decades, and is double the level of the 1960s.

The growth in consumption is largely due to aquaculture: the farming of freshwater and saltwater populations under controlled conditions, rather than harvesting of wild species. Aquaculture now provides half of all fish for human consumption.

Some 57 million people were engaged in the primary fish production sectors, a third of them in aquaculture. “Developing countries were the source of $80 billion of fishery exports, providing higher net trade revenues than meat, tobacco, rice and sugar combined,” said the FAO.

Despite technical advances and innovations, many countries, especially less developed economies, still lack infrastructure such as, electricity, water, roads, ice, cold rooms and refrigerated transport, needed to support aquaculture.

Because of this, the report found that a large amount of harvested fish are spoiled and wasted. In Africa, some estimates put post-harvest losses at 20–25 percent, and even up to 50 percent.

Globally, post-harvest fish losses are a major concern, with an estimated global total of 27 percent of fish being lost or wasted between landing and consumption. In the Mediterranean and Black Sea, it found an alarming 59 percent of assessed stocks are fished at biologically unsustainable levels.

Read the rest at Inter Press Service

Related: Seaweed Gains Ground as a Pillar of Food Security in South America (Inter Press Service)


IPS is an international communication institution with a global news agency at its core, raising the voices of the South and civil society on issues of development, globalisation, human rights and the environment. Check out the website at

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