Traditional fisheries may no longer be the world’s most important provider of fish. A new United Nations report shows that fish farming or aquaculture may soon lead fish production.
The Food and Agriculture Organization says aquaculture is growing by a rate of 6.6 percent a year.
Aquaculture now produces forty-six percent of the world’s supply of fish. That represents a forty-three percent increase from two thousand six. The report also said aquaculture earned more money in two thousand eight than traditional fisheries.
The FAO headquarters in Rome published the document, "State of the World’s Fisheries and Aquaculture."
In aquaculture, fish are raised in tanks or small bodies of water called ponds. They also are raised in cages or nets in oceans, lakes and rivers.
The report says increased aquaculture has helped people around the world eat record amounts of fish. The FAO says each person ate an average of almost seventeen kilograms of fish last year.
But the FAO says the current yearly wild-fish harvest of ninety million tons shows no improvement. Decreasing numbers of fish and stronger catch limits have reduced the possibilities for catching wild fish.
The FAO report says about thirty-two percent of world supplies are overfished, depleted or recovering. It said these supplies of fish need to be urgently rebuilt.
Some scientists have criticized aquaculture. They say the nets and cages permit fish diseases and pests to spread.
Some aquaculture critics doubt that aquaculture can keep growing at the current rate. But Wally Stevens of the trade group Global Aquaculture Alliance says the industry must continue developing to feed growing populations.
Mr. Stevens says a one hundred percent increase in fish farming over ten years is necessary to keep providing for people at the current level. He notes that aquaculture creates jobs and wealth, especially for people in coastal areas of China.
The FAO reports that China remains the world’s largest fish-producing nation. China produces more than sixty percent of the world’s farmed fish.