Poorer countries will place pressure on dwindling fish stocks

Developing countries will "shape nearly all growth in the fish industry" in the next two decades, according to a report published today.

'Outlook for Fish to 2020: Meeting Global Demand', a report released today by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the WorldFish Center, forecasts trends in supply and demand for fish and seafood products over the next 20 years and their impact on fisheries.

The report sets out to examine pressing problems of fisheries in terms of rapidly changing global and national market forces. Using computer modelling, the researchers project that, in 20 years, developing countries will be responsible for 77% of global fish consumption and 79% of world production.

"The trends are clear: in 2020, people in developing countries will produce, consume, and trade a greater share of the world's fish. Policymakers in rich and poor countries alike must consider this when developing fisheries policies for the coming decades," said Chris Delgado, lead author of the report.

The report projects that fish consumption in developing countries will increase by 57%, from 62.7 million metric tons in 1997 to 98.6 million in 2020. By comparison, fish consumption in developed countries will increase by only about 4%, from 28.1 million metric tons in 1997 to 29.2 million in 2020.

Rapid population growth, increasing affluence, and urbanization in developing countries are leading to major changes in supply and demand for animal protein, from both livestock and fish, the report claims.

The study projects that more than 40% of fish eaten by consumers in 2020 will come from fish farms. Aquaculture production is expected to nearly double in the next two decades, climbing from 28.6 million metric tons in 1997 to 53.6 in 2020.

However, expanding aquaculture could also increase pollution and the use of scarce water and land resources, threatening the environment and the poor in developing countries, according to the report.

"The fate of aquaculture and the world's wild fisheries are linked through markets and even more directly," said Joachim von Braun of IFPRI.

"On the one hand, fish farming often uses wild fish products such as fishmeal and small fish as feed, and this is already stressing wild fisheries. Often, fish farming and wild fisheries compete for the use of coastal space. On the other hand, increased fish farm production reduces pressure on fish prices and may decrease pressure on wild stocks."


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