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Calls for sustainable fishing must include Asia to be truly effective

The FAO’s 2024 State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture Report revealed that of the 185.4 million tonnes of aquatic animal production worldwide in 2022, 94 million tonnes was from aquaculture and 91 million tonnes was accounted for by wild catch.

The report reminded us of a rarely recognised reality: as the world population has surged and per capita fish consumption has risen – doubling from 9.1kg per capita in 1961 to 20.7kg in 2022 – it is only because of the astonishing emergence of aquaculture that we have managed to keep pace with demand.

And, as the FAO report predicted, our reliance on aquaculture will continue to grow, with a 10 per cent rise in aquatic consumption by 2032 to around 205 million tonnes. If we are to meet global demand in 2050, when the world population is expected to reach 9.7 billion, production must rise 22 per cent.

This hectic growth makes fisheries one of the most important contributors to the global economy. It accounts for more than 60 million jobs worldwide, with an output value amounting to more than US $470 billion and global trade valued at about US$195 billion.


Thai mackerel might be wiped off the menu, but why?

Perhaps predictably, the report’s predictions raised alarms among hundreds of global environmental advocacy groups. Most notable was an open letter to Manuel Barange, the FAO’s assistant director general for fisheries and aquaculture, from 160 experts and civil society groups, including leaders from the Global Salmon Fishing Resistance, Katheti and Don’t Cage Our Oceans. Noting the FAO’s call for a 75 per cent growth in sustainable aquaculture by 2040 compared to 2020 levels, the authors said they were “deeply concerned about how [the FAO plans] to achieve it”.

Acknowledging the