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The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)’s new report on supply and demand for food worldwide indicates the global seafood industry won’t keep up with demand without aquaculture, despite critics’ claims to the contrary.

Audun Lem, one of the report’s authors, told SeafoodSource activists who think the world can live without aquaculture are “not only dead wrong,” but “surpassed by reality.”

The report is similar to an FAO report from 2007, which contained a statement often repeated by the seafood industry, particularly the aquaculture industry: That by 2030, the world’s population will balloon to a point that to properly do its part to fulfill global food needs, the seafood industry will have to produce an additional 30 million metric tons (MT) of seafood each year.

This week, Lem said that prediction still holds true. The newest report predicts that the world’s population will be about 8.2 billion by 2030, and Lem said the new research shows the same predictions on food demands that were made in 2007.

However, the report also lends hope that the industry will keep up with that demand, making predictions of how much seafood will actually be available based on assumptions of increased aquaculture production and increased catch volumes. While the predictions do not go as far as 2030, the report shows that in 2012, the global seafood industry produced 157 million MT of seafood, and that number is expected to rise to between 181 and 194 million MT by 2022. According to the report, “The main driver of this growth will be aquaculture production.”

Some environmental activist critics have said the key to feeding the public lies in better managed fisheries, not in farmed seafood. Lem acknowledged capture fisheries “remain important,” but noted FAO data indicates the supply of seafood worldwide that comes from aquaculture overtook the amount provided by capture fisheries in 2014. According to the new report, capture fishery volumes have “leveled off” since the mid-1980s, while volumes of farmed seafood have increased steadily.

“If we wish to supply seafood to the worlds future population aquaculture is not only key, but constitutes the biggest part of the solution,” he said.


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