By 2030, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) predicts an important boost to the current low consumption of fish in Latin America and the Caribbean, according to a new report published on Monday.
According to the State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2018 (SOFIA), the region will see a considerable increase in its total fish consumption: 33%.
This is particularly important for the region, as it is currently a net exporter of fish and a large aquaculture producer, but it has the lowest per capita consumption worldwide: only 9.8 kilos per year. In 2015, the region consumed only 6.2 million tons of fish, less than all other regions of the world, except for Oceania.
By 2030, total fish consumption is expected to increase in all regions and sub-regions, with strong projected growth 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, compared with 20.3 kg in 2016. Per capita consumption will increase in all regions except Africa (-2%). The highest growth rates are projected for Latin America (+ 18%) and for Asia and Oceania (+ 8% each).
However, despite these increases, SOFIA forecasts that by 2030 approximately 71% of fish available for human consumption (184 million tonnes) will be consumed in Asian countries, while the lowest quantities will be consumed in Oceania and Latin America.
Increased production of fisheries and aquaculture:
SOFIA forecasts that by 2030, the region will see a 24.2% growth in fish production (fisheries and aquaculture) from 12.9 million tons to 16 million tons.
Although currently only 4% of the world population dedicated to the fishing and aquaculture sectors lives in Latin America and the Caribbean, in the Brazilian Amazon, for example, households obtain 30% of the family income from fishing.
By 2030, aquaculture production is expected to continue expanding on all continents, and further increases are expected, particularly in Latin America, where it will grow 49%, from more than 2.7 million tons to more than 4 million tons.
As of right now, 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 experienced high sustained growth.
Net fish exporter
Latin America and the Caribbean continues to be a net exporter of fish. Latin American exports, which mainly comprise shrimp, tuna, salmon and fishmeal from Ecuador, Chile and Peru, increased in 2016 and again in 2017 due to higher production and a rebound in tuna prices.
By 2030, the fish exports projected an increase of 29% in the region, from 3.9 million tons in 2016 to 5.1 million tons. Imports will experience an even greater increase of 53% from 2.3 million tons in 2016 to 3.5 million tons in 2030.
Fall in marine capture also affected Chile and Peru. Total marine catches worldwide were 79.3 million tons in 2016, which represents a decrease of almost 2 million tons compared to 81.2 million tons in 2015.
Catches of anchoveta from Peru and Chile – which are often considerable but very variable due to the influence of El Niño – represented 1.1 million tons of this decrease. However, in the last two years, Peru continued to be the world’s leading producer and exporter of fishmeal and fish oil.
Importance of inland fisheries
Freshwater ecosystems are important sources of edible fish and provide about 40% 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 those working in capture fisheries work in inland fisheries, although inland fisheries constitute only 3% of the catches in the region.
The impact of continental capture fisheries can be focused on specific areas of a country: in Brazil, for example, the national average consumption of freshwater fish (from inland capture fisheries and freshwater aquaculture) is quite low – only 3.95 kg per capita per year in 2013- but in the Amazon, this same consumption is close to 150 kg per capita per year.