Divers around the open-ocean aquaculture cage at the Cape Eleuthera Institute in Eleuthera, Bahamas.
Fish continues to be one of the most-traded food commodities worldwide with more than half of fish exports by value originating in developing countries. Recent reports by high-level experts, international organizations, industry and civil society representatives all highlight the tremendous potential of the oceans and inland waters now, and even more so in the future, to contribute significantly to food security and adequate nutrition for a global population expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050.
In 2014, fish harvested from aquaculture around the globe amounted to 73.8 million tonnes, with an estimated first-sale value of US$160.2 billion, consisting of 49.8 million tonnes of finfish (US$99.2 billion), 16.1 million tonnes of shellfish (US$19 billion), 6.9 million tonnes of crustaceans (US$36.2 billion), and 7.3 million tonnes of other aquatic animals including frogs (US$3.7 billion). Almost all fish produced from aquaculture are destined for human consumption, although by-products may be used for non-food purposes.
Measured at the national level, 35 countries produced more farmed than wild-caught fish in 2014. This group of countries has a combined population of 3.3 billion, or 45 percent of the world’s population. Countries in this group include five major producers, namely, China, India, Viet Nam, Bangladesh, and Egypt.
Global aquaculture production is dominated by Asia (89 percent); China alone accounts for 62 percent. According to the most recent Fisheries of the United States, the U.S. ranks 16th in aquaculture production.
The list of farmed species imported to the United States is dominated by shrimp, Atlantic salmon, tilapia, and shellfish (scallops, mussels, clams, and oysters). Asian countries and Ecuador supply most of the shrimp to the U.S. market while Canada, Norway, and Chile supply most of the imported Atlantic salmon.
For data on U.S. imports and exports of seafood, see NOAA’s annual summaries on U.S. foreign trade.