Wild fisheries landings decline while aquaculture surges

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By Milthon Lujan

Landings of wild-caught fish in OECD countries are 40% below their late 1980s peak and continue to decline, while aquaculture production has been increasing at an annual rate of 2.1% since 2011, according to a new OECD report.


The OECD Review of Fisheries 2017 says the value of OECD aquaculture production increased at an average rate of 6% each year since 2006, as production moved to higher value species. The data suggest that aquaculture production is set for long-term growth while capture fisheries can expect modest recovery at best.

The diminishing quantity of wild-caught fish in OECD countries is the result of declining stocks as well as the introduction of more restrictive fishing policies that aim to ensure sustainable exploitation of fisheries. Beyond the decline in volumes, wild-caught fish prices are no longer high enough to prevent the value of fisheries landings in OECD countries from falling, as was the case until 2011, according to the report.

The OECD Review of Fisheries 2017 covers 28 OECD member countries, as well as Argentina, the People’s Republic of China, Colombia, Indonesia, Lithuania, Chinese Taipei and Thailand, which together account for almost half of global fisheries production and for the majority of aquaculture production. The report finds that stated stock management objectives are being met for only 61% of the reported 1,182 fish stocks.

Most countries covered in the report are reviewing and revising procedures for allocation and administration of fishing rights and quotas. Countries are also working actively to promote the sustainable development of aquaculture, which is widely recognised as the primary source of future growth in fish production, according to the report.

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“Our work affirms the growing importance of aquaculture production, which already exceeds wild-caught fisheries when aquatic plants are included,” said Ken Ash, OECD Director for Trade and Agriculture. “Given the information collected in this report, we expect this trend to continue. However, almost 40% of assessed fish stocks failed to meet management objectives, and many more stocks are still unassessed. There is clearly much room for improvement, and we welcome the additional actions taken by governments to gain control of overfishing,” said Mr. Ash.

The Review provides in-depth data on support provided to the fisheries sector by 26 OECD member countries, alongside Colombia, Costa Rica, Lithuania, China, Indonesia, Argentina and Chinese Taipei. Taken together, these economies provided USD 13 billion to fishers in 2015, equivalent to one-sixth of the total value of their landings. OECD member countries accounted for USD 7 billion of this sum, while China’s fishing industry, the largest in the world, received USD 5.7 billion in 2015.

“There are concerns about the impact of fisheries support on over-capacity and over-fishing,” said Mr. Ash. “Our data show that there is a significant amount of potentially harmful support out there, but also that there are opportunities to redirect this support in ways that help fishers without damaging the long-term sustainability of the resource.”

Download “OECD Review of Fisheries: Policies and Summary Statistics 2017” at 


Further information on the OECD Review of Fisheries 2017 is available at 

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