FARMED fish will be contributing almost two thirds of the total global seafood supply within the next 15 years, the World Seafood Congress in Grimsby was told yesterday.
Dr Lahsen Ababouch, from the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation, said of the 160 million tonnes of fish consumed every year, an increasing amount was now coming from aquaculture.
This is partly because of the stagnation, for many reasons, of wild caught fishing. Both styles of fishing employed around 58 million people, with 20 million of those working in fish farming.
He said aquaculture was now worth around US $98 billion a year. In 1984 fish farming produced around five millions tonnes annually. This figure is predicted to rise to 80 million tonnes by 2029.
‘In fact, it will supply most of the demand for seafood in the future. The situation is changing and by 2030 I expect aquaculture to provide 62 per cent of seafood compared with 38 per cent from wild caught sources,’ he said.
Currently, the world supply of seafood is broadly split between wild caught and farmed fish.
Tanya Arkle, marine director for the Department of Fisheries and Rural Affairs (Defra), and standing in for the UK fisheries minister George Eustice, told the audience that Grimsby still had the most important fish market in Europe and vitally important fish processing industry.
She said everyone was being encouraged to eat more fish because of its health benefits, but the big question facing the world now was how to make it globally sustainable.
‘It is very important for environment that fishery management decisions are scientifically based,’ she said.
‘Under a reformed Common Fisheries Policy the EU is committed to ensuring that fishing regulations outside its waters are the same as those within EU waters.’
Arkle added that aquaculture was also playing an increasingly important role in filling the gap left by areas of the sea that had been fished out.
She revealed that Defra was now preparing a 25-year long-term plan to address the many economic and other issues facing the industry.
‘It will address areas such as skills, research and development and investment. Sustainable business is no longer an ideal – it is real.’
Paul Williams, chief executive of Seafish, which organised the event, said it clearly demonstrated the global reach of the seafood industry.
‘The industry has faced up and tackled many challenges in the past, but I believe it can now be positive and excited about the future.
‘The international market place is ever changing and although at times the environment we work in and challenges we face may seem disparate, collaboration is key to ensuring the industry as a whole is equipped with the tools it needs to succeed.’
Williams said he hoped delegates would leave the conference with a clear vision of how it could create a strong and sustainable future for the industry.
The conference opened on Monday with Timothy Hansen, the American president of the International Association of Fish Inspectors, saying he was delighted to be in one of the most important and historic fishing ports in the world.
‘We have already had a simply outstanding experience,’ he added.
‘And I want to thank the people of Grimsby and Cleethorpes for their wonderful hospitality and friendship.’