FISH IS THE NEW BEEF.
The world’s appetite for fish is growing. Since 1961, the global demand for fish has risen at twice the rate of the world’s population. In fact, we’re now eating twice as much fish as we did just 50 years ago, with per capita intake increasing from 9.9 kg to 18.8 kg annually. Rises in the global demand for fish are expected to continue—and the output needed to fulfill is expected to double, reaching an astonishing 230 million tonnes by 2050. Meeting this demand will create a market increase valued at upwards of several hundred billion dollars.
In the past, wild fisheries have been the primary resource for fish. Today, however, the majority of wild fisheries are pushed beyond their limits. Currently, nearly 85% of global fish stocks are either exploited or, even worse, depleted. Putting further pressure on wild fisheries will have catastrophic consequences; in fact, scientists predict that it will turn our oceans into virtual deserts in less than 35 years.
For these reasons, it’ll be impossible to meet the extraordinary demand for fish in upcoming decades (which is more than double the amount that overtaxed fisheries currently produce) without relying on an alternative harvesting method.
This method is aquaculture.
Thanks to new and improved technologies, sustainable methods of aquaculture can now be used to fulfill the demand for fish without tapping our seas’ resources or harming delicate ecosystems. In effect, meeting the demand for fish using aquaculture offers a profitable and ecologically viable alternative to the oceans-as-deserts scenario we are currently facing. Additionally, it will spark the creation of tens of millions of new jobs, chiefly in economically disadvantaged communities.
The trend towards fish farming has already started: the number of fish now harvested from farms has doubled, nearly tripled, in recent years and aquaculture is now fulfilling nearly half the world’s demand for fish. As early as 2015, aquaculture is expected to surpass fisheries as the main producer of fish. By 2022, the output of fish from aquaculture will be 35% higher than what it is today (about $125 billion), which will help to meet rising demands where the current global wild fisheries market no longer can.
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, World Health Organization, and World Wildlife Fund