Where Your Seafood Now Comes From May Surprise You

More aquatic animals were farmed in 2022 than caught in the wild, per a new UN report
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 22, 2024 2:10 PM CDT
Where Your Seafood Now Comes From May Surprise You
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/gbh007)

In the world of marine life, some big news. The United Nations, via its Food and Agriculture Organization, is out with its 2024 report on the state of the world's fisheries and aquaculture—the practice of breeding, raising, and harvesting aquatic organisms on farms—and for the first time, the global volume of fish, clams, shrimp, and other aquatic creatures culled via the farms has surpassed those harvested from the wild, reports the AP.

  • Stats: In 2022, there were 91 million tons of aquatic animals caught in the wild (down from 91.6 million the previous year), but 94.4 million tons created via aquaculture, or 51% of the total aquatic animal production, per a release. The total haul worldwide was 185 million tons.

  • Fish in farms vs. the wild: The AP details the types of fish you'd more commonly find in a fishery (Alaska pollock, skipjack tuna, and Peruvian anchovies), versus those on a fish farm (carp, tilapia, shrimp and prawns, and clams). The vast majority (90%) of all of this marine life is consumed by humans, while the rest is used in fish oils or to feed other fish.
  • Aquaculture's dominance: Experts tell the AP that the limitations of Mother Nature have led to a stagnation in fishery hauls over the past 30 years or so. Ten countries now dominate aquaculture, mostly in Asia, producing nearly 90% of the aquaculture total, per the release: China, Indonesia, India, Vietnam, Bangladesh, the Philippines, South Korea, Norway, Egypt, and Chile.
  • Environmental impact: The Grist takes a closer look at how both harvesting fish from the wild and aquaculture affect the environment. Both have their cons: Aquaculture, for instance, can lead to nitrogen and phosphorus being released, damaging aquatic habitats. Farm-bred fish can also spread disease among their wild counterparts and breed with them, leading to what the Grist calls "genetic pollution." However, catching fish in the wild can leave the collateral damage of inadvertently killing off other species, thanks to certain "destructive" fishing practices, while some fisheries may harvest fish more quickly than they're breeding.
(More seafood stories.)

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