Marine Fisheries

  • Global fish production peaked in 2016
  • Aquaculture represents 47% of the total
  • Average annual global fish food consumption outpaced population growth between 1961 and 2016
  • Average annual consumption of global fish food exceeded that of meat from all terrestrial animals during the same period
  • Food fish consumption has grown at about 1.5%/year since 1961
  • Fish accounted for about 17% of animal protein for the global population (2015)
  • Fish provides about 3.2 billion people with almost 20% of average per capita intake of animal protein
  • The state of marine resource fisheries has continued to decline (See 14-20 below)
  • Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing (IUU) pose a significant problem to sustainable fisheries (See below)

1.  Seafood is the world’s most traded food commodity, with global exports worth more than US$148 billion in 2014 (Boerder et al., Global hot spots of transshipment of fish catch at sea, Sci. Adv. 2018; 4 : eaat7159 25 July 2018)

2.  Total marine wild fish catch (reported and unreported) estimated to be 110 million metric tons, with a value of US$171 billion (McCauley, et al., Wealthy countries dominate industrial fishing, Sci. Adv. 2018; 4 : eaau2161 1 August 2018)

3.  Industrial fishing is dominated globally by wealthy nations. Vessels flagged to higher-income nations, for example, are responsible for 97% of the trackable industrial fishing on the high seas and 78% of such effort within the national waters of lower-income countries. (McCauley, et al)

4.  The United States and Japan have been essentially tied in recent years as the largest single country import markets for seafood, both importing between 13% and 14% of the global total. The EU is the largest overall market, importing about 27% of the total. Together these three markets account for about 55% of global seafood imports. (Pramod, et al., Estimates of illegal and unreported fish in seafood imports to the USA, Marine Policy 48 (2014) 102–113 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.marpol.2014.03.019)

5.  Seafood consumption in the USA totaled about 2.1 million tonnes, second only to China representing 6.8 kg per capita in 2011. (This includes domestic production that is consumed inside the USA.) American consumers spent an estimated $85.9 billion on fish products in 2011, with about $57.7 billion spent at foodservice establishments, $27.6 billion at retail, and $625 million on industrial fish products. Tuna, crab, pollock and cod are the most consumed wild-caught seafood products. (Pramod, et al.)

6.  In 2011 roughly 90% of seafood consumed in the United States was imported, and about half of this was wild-caught. (Pramod, et al.)

Trends in total catch and area fished by global fisheries, 1950-2014. (A) global industrial fisheries catch (8), (B) percentage of ice-free ocean area exploited, and (C) industrial catch per unit ocean area. Dashed line indicates year of peak global catch in 1996, with percentage growth/decline since 1996 labeled on each time series.
(Source:  Tickler, et al., Far from home:  Distance patterns of global fishing fleets, Sci. Adv. 2018;4:eaar3279 1 August 2018 )

Capture Production by Country:


Source:  FAO. 2018. The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2018 – Meeting the sustainable development goals. Rome. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.
Fisheries production has been trending upwards in the tropics, but decreasing elsewhere

Source:  FAO. 2018. The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2018 – Meeting the sustainable development goals. Rome. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.
Global fish production peaked in 2016, with capture fishery production relatively static since the late 1980’s.
Source:  FAO. 2018. The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2018 – Meeting the sustainable development goals. Rome. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.

Challenge to Sustainable Fisheries: Transshipment of Catch at Sea; recent findings from Boerder, et al.

A major challenge in global fisheries is posed by transshipment of catch at sea from fishing vessels to refrigerated cargo vessels, which can obscure the origin of the catch and mask illicit practices. Transshipment remains poorly quantified at a global scale, as much of it is thought to occur outside of national waters. We used Automatic Identification System (AIS) vessel tracking data to quantify spatial patterns of transshipment for major fisheries and gear types. From 2012 to 2017, we observed 10,510 likely transshipment events, with trawlers (53%) and longliners (21%) involved in a majority of cases. Trawlers tended to transship in national waters, whereas longliners did so predominantly on the high seas. Spatial hot spots were seen off the coasts of Russia and West Africa, in the South Indian Ocean, and in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. Our study highlights novel ways to trace seafood supply chains and identifies priority areas for improved trade regulation and fisheries management at the global scale. (Boerder et al., Global hot spots of transshipment of fish catch at sea, Sci. Adv. 2018; 4 : eaat7159 25 July 2018 )

A Tale of Tuna:  An albacore’s journey to the supermarket

1.  Fishing vessel fishes for 2-3 weeks

2.  Vessel meet a “reefer” (refrigerated cargo ship) on the high seas to off-load

3.  Reefer returns to port (about once a month) to land the transshipped tuna

4.  Whole fish is processed into “loins”(a cut, normally of uniform thickness, with no taper and no bones*)    and shipped in sealed containers to canning facilities in the United States, which takes 4-8 weeks

5.  Reprocessing and canning occur over another 4 weeks

6.  Distribution to retail within 2-12 weeks

  • Total time from sea to shelf:  18-35 weeks
  • Travel distance from sea to shelf:  average 17,000 km (13,000-20,000km, excluding traveling on the fishing boat and transport to final retail

         * http://www.jjmcdonnell.com/product-information/loin-prime-cut

9.  57% of managed tuna stocks are considered to be at a healthy level of abundance, 13% are overfished, and even those that are not overfished show slight declines in biomass over time

10.  Oceanic sharks, of which 44% are threatened, spend a great deal of time in the high seas, where shark fishing is largely unregulated and unmonitored

11.  Only six countries (China, Taiwan, Japan, Indonesia, Spain, and South Korea) accounted for 77% of the global high-seas fishing fleet and 80% of all AIS/VMS-inferred fishing effort

12. Of these six countries, five (excluding Indonesia) account for nearly two-thirds (US$4.9 billion) of the global high-seas fishing revenue (US$7.6 billion)

13.  Without government subsidies, high-seas fishing at the global scale would be unlikely (Source 9-13:  Sala, et al., The economics of fishing the high seas, Sala et al., Sci. Adv. 2018;4:eaat2504 6 June 2018)

14.  The fraction of fish stocks that are within biologically sustainable levels has exhibited a decreasing trend from 90.0% in 1974 to 66.9% in 2015 (FAO)

15. In 2015, nearly 60% of marine stocks were maximally sustainably fished

In 2015, maximally sustainably fished stocks accounted for 59.9 percent and underfished stocks for 7.0 percent of the total assessed stocks (separated by the white line in the figure). The underfished stocks decreased continuously from 1974 to 2015, whereas the maximally sustainably fished stocks decreased from 1974 to 1989, and then increased to 59.9 percent in 2015. Source:  FAO. 2018. The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2018 – Meeting the sustainable development goals. Rome. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.
16. The percentage of stocks fished unsustainably varies considerably globally

The percentage of stocks fished unsustainably varies considerably globally Source:  FAO. 2018. The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2018 – Meeting the sustainable development goals. Rome. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.
17. Productivity and stock status vary greatly among species. Of the ten species with the largest landings between 1950 and 2015, 77.4% were fished within sustainable levels in 2015–better than average for all stocks
18. In 2015, 43% of principal tuna species were fished unsustainably
18. The world’s marine fisheries had 33.1% of stocks classified as overfished in 2015
19. Progress towards global sustainability is uneven; overcapacity and stock status has worsened in developing countries, while management and stock status in developing nations has improved
#14-19 Source:  FAO. 2018. The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2018 – Meeting the sustainable development goals. Rome. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.

Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing

Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is a significant global problem jeopardizing ecosystems, food security, and livelihoods around the world.

(Pramod, et al., Estimates of illegal and unreported fish in seafood imports to the USA, Marine Policy 48 (2014) 102–113

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.marpol.2014.03.019)

1.    Estimates of IUU extent by country and region have revealed substantial IUU world wide between 13% and 31% of reported catches, and over 50% in some regions. This illegal catch is valued at between $10 and $23.5 billion per year.  IUU fishing distorts competition, harms honest fishermen, weakens coastal communities, promotes tax evasion, and is frequently associated with transnational crime such as narcotraffic and slavery at sea.

2.  The highly internationalized seafood supply chain feeding imports into the United States and other major markets is one of the most complex and opaque of all natural commodities. It involves many actors between the fisherman and the consumer, including brokers, traders, wholesalers and other middlemen, often distant from the consumer markets they supply.

3.  IUU in the USA

20–32% by weight of wild-caught seafood imported by the United States in 2011, with a value between $1.3 billion and $2.1 billion (or 15–26% of total value of wild-caught seafood), were from illegal and unreported (IU) catches. This trade represents between 4% and 16% of the value of the global illegal fish catch and reveals the unintentional role of the USA, one of the largest seafood markets in the world, in funding the profits of illegal fishing.

Source: Pramod, et al (above)

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