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Top Ten Amazing Aquaculture Facts

#1:  Did you know that more than half the seafood eaten worldwide comes from aquaculture? (1) 

(Also see this issue, "Aquaculture: (Not) Half the Fish We Eat," by Dr. Daniel Pauly.)

#2: That’s why aquaculture is the fastest growing area of food production. It’s kept up a steady expansion of 8.4% a year since 1970.  (2)

#3: Aquaculture has risen as fisheries have flattened out. Eighty-seven percent of the world’s fisheries are fully exploited or depleted.  Wildcatch fisheries are down 3% a year from 2000-2003.  (3)

Shrimp aquaculture in Malaysia.

#4: One country dominates aquaculture—China, which grows a whopping 61% of the world’s farmed seafood. If you add in the rest of Asia, that accounts for 91%. (2)

The shrimp in your salad has probably travelled across the world.

#5: It’s not just shrimp and salmon that is extensively farmed. Aquaculture supplies most of the world’s seafood products for many species:

Seaweeds:  99.5%

Carps:  89.9%

Salmonids:  72.8%

Tilapia, catfish, mollusks, crabs & lobsters:  50%

#6: Kilogram by kilogram, fish is very efficient. For every kilogram of dry food it eats, Atlantic salmon grows 1 kilogram of flesh. Compare that to chickens, who require 3 to 5 kilogram per kilogram of meat. And pigs take 8 kilograms to make a kilogram of pork!  (2)

School of Hawaiian Big Eye

#7: Why are fish so efficient at converting feed to flesh? The water they live supports their weight, so they don’t need to grow a heavy skeleton. Because they’re cold-blooded, they don’t need to burn calories to generate body heat.  (2)

#8: The most efficient of all are the shellfish. Unlike shrimp and salmon, oysters and clams don’t need to be fed—they feed themselves by filtering the water for nutrients. Bonus benefit—they clean the water as they eat.

#9: As incomes rise, demand for fish follows. By 2030, aquaculture production is estimated to grow 50%.  (2)

#10: Around the world, the best performing nations showed more than 50% lower impact levels on the environment than the worst performing nations. There is huge potential for improvements through sharing best practices. 


(1) FAO 2012. The State of the World’s Fisheries and Aquaculture. United Nations Food and Agriculture Department, Rome.

(2) Hall, S.J., A. Delaporte, M. J. Phillips, M. Beveridge and M. O’Keefe. 2011. Blue Frontiers: Managing the Environmental Costs of Aquaculture. The WorldFish Center. Penang, Malaysia.  

(3) Trujillo, P., 2008. Using a mariculture sustainability index to rank countries’ performance. Pp. 28-56 In: Alder, J. and D. Pauly (eds.). 2008. A comparative assessment of biodiversity, fisheries and aquaculture in 53 countries’ Exclusive Economic Zones.’ Fisheries Centre Research Reports. Fisheries Centre, University of British Columbia.