GOAL: Fish farming not far short of doubling in a decade

Published on
October 5, 2017
Ragnar Tveteras

Catfish, tilapia, and barramundi harvests have all increased by well over 100 percent in the last 10 years, but the fish-farming sector as a whole has not sustained the ambitious target of doubling in a decade, said Ragnar Tveteras, business economist at the University of Stavanger, Norway.

Citing the latest figures from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Tveteras told the Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) GOAL 2017 conference in Dublin, Ireland, that global finfish production grew sixfold from 9 million metric tons (MT) in 1990 to almost 52 million MT in 2015, but added that the desired decade-on-decade doubling of volume had not been achieved since 2004.

Nevertheless, GAA’s most recent figures for the period 2007 to 2017 find that fish farming is not far off realizing the target. 

Tveteras highlighted that the marine sector had seen production growth of 36.5 percent over the decade, while the diadromous sector – including Atlantic and coho salmon, large rainbow trout and small trout, as well as barramundi – grew 47.4 percent. Freshwater fish, meanwhile, increased by 91.5 percent, and if carp is excluded the growth was 152.8 percent. 

Overall, and including carp, the growth of finfish production has increased by 86.2 percent in the last decade.

Specifically, catfish, tilapia, and barramundi production over the 10-year period has increased by 234.5 percent, 149.3 percent and 147.3 percent respectively. These harvest growth levels are followed by turbot (94 percent), carp (74 percent), bluefin tuna (68.5 percent), and Atlantic salmon (61.9 percent).

Looking ahead, GAA’s surveys, which currently cover around 40 million MT of the 52 million MT of finfish produced, expect good growth rates across the main freshwater species for the four years 2015 through 2018. 

With the exception of large rainbow trout, the diadromous sector is also anticipating positive growth. 

However, the marine species are something of a “mixed bag,” said Tveteras, with only farmed bluefin tuna expected to show consistent annual growth over the next few years.

“Still, many of these sectors have had very good growth,” he said. “If [producers] continue to generate new ideas, innovate and continue to work hard we can continue to do this."

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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