Early 2007 data suggest worldwide production from capture fisheries, excluding China, had risen by at least 3 percent in 2007. Last year, China revised downward its 2006 catch figures by 2 million metric tons, citing enhanced data collection, throwing into doubt its 2007 reported catch numbers.
Anchoveta, Alaska pollock and skipjack tuna are the world's most heavily exploited wild fish species. Capture fisheries production has largely stayed the same over the past few years, rising and falling between 90 million to 94 million metric tons annually, hitting 92 million metric tons in 2006. Ebbs and flows in the catch numbers can largely be explained by the El Niño weather phenomenon, which has a strong effect on Peruvian anchoveta, Kourous explained.
But the world's three largest fisheries could now be feeling the effects of depletion due to overfishing. Last year, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration closed the Alaska pollock season early after alarms were raised over low catch numbers, sending prices for the fish spiking temporarily.
Aquaculture rising FAO figures show that aquaculture's share of the global fish industry continues to rise, with China leading the surge.
"After growing steadily, particularly in the last four decades, aquaculture is for the first time set to contribute half of the fish consumed by the human population worldwide," said Ichiro Nomura, assistant director general of FAO's fisheries and aquaculture department. "This reflects not only the vitality of the aquaculture sector but also global economic growth and continuing developments in fish processing and trade."
In 2006, China grew 34.4 million metric tons of fish on farms, far outstripping the 17 million metric tons that nation caught on the open ocean. China accounts for roughly 66 percent of the world's total aquaculture production in tonnage, and that country exported $9.3 billion worth in 2007.
Worldwide aquaculture has grown on average by about 6.9 percent annually in recent years. FAO estimates that the industry expanded by a further 7 percent in 2007, but 2008 production growth numbers could be affected by worsening economic conditions later that year. FAO had already earlier reported that growth in aquaculture in China appears to be leveling off.