Fish consumption will increase by 33% in Latin America

FAO published the study “The State of World Fisheries 2018” (SOFIJA), which predicts a significant increase in the currently low consumption of fish in Latin America and the Caribbean.

By 2030, total fish consumption is expected to increase in all regions and subregions, with major growth predicted in Latin America (+33%), Africa (+37%), Oceania (+28%) and Asia (+20 %).

In per capita terms, global fish consumption is projected to reach 21.5 kg in 2030, up from 20.3 kg in 2016. Per capita consumption will increase in all regions except Africa (-2 percent). The highest growth rates are predicted for Latin America (+18 percent) and for Asia and Oceania (+8 percent each).

However, despite these increases, SOFIA predicts that in 2030, approximately 71 percent of fish available for human consumption (184 million tons) will be consumed in Asian countries, while the smallest amounts will be consumed in Oceania and Latin America.

SOFIA predicts that by 2030, the region will see a 24.2% increase in fish production (fisheries and aquaculture) from 12.9 million tons to 16 million tons.

Although currently only 4% of the world’s population dedicated to the fishing and aquaculture sectors lives in Latin America and the Caribbean, in the Brazilian Amazon, for example, households derive 30% of their family income from fishing.

By 2030, aquaculture production is expected to continue to expand on all continents, with further increases especially in Latin America, where it will grow by 49%, from over 2.7 million tonnes to over 4 million tonnes.

Currently, 3.8 million people work in aquaculture in the region, 2% of the world total. Employment in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors is growing moderately, while aquaculture production has recorded fairly high sustained growth.

Latin American exports, consisting mainly of shrimp, tuna, salmon and fishmeal from Ecuador, Chile and Peru, increased in 2016 and again in 2017 due to higher production and recovering tuna prices.

By 2030, projected fish exports in the region will increase by 29%, from 3.9 million tons in 2016 to 5.1 million tons. Imports will see an even bigger increase of 53%, from 2.3 million tons in 2016 to 3.5 million tons in 2030.

The total global marine catch was 79.3 million tonnes in 2016, a decrease of almost 2 million tonnes from 81.2 million tonnes in 2015. Anchovy catches in Peru and Chile – – which are often substantial but highly variable due to the influence of El Niño – represents 1.1 million tons of this decline. However, in the last two years, Peru has remained the world’s leading producer and exporter of fishmeal and fish oil.

Freshwater ecosystems are important sources of food for fish, providing about 40 percent of all fish intended for human consumption in recent years. In at least 11 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, 20% or more of people working in fisheries work in inland fisheries, even though inland fisheries account for only 3% of the region’s catch.

The impact of inland fishing can be concentrated in certain areas of the country: in Brazil, for example, the national average consumption of freshwater fish (from inland fishing and freshwater aquaculture) is quite low – only 3.95 kg per inhabitant per year in 2013 – but in Amazonia, this same consumption is close to 150 kg per inhabitant per year.

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