The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is forecasting an important boost to Latin America and the Caribbean’s currently low fish consumption, a new report published Monday has indicated.
According to The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2018 (SOFIA), the region will see a considerable increase in total fish consumption: 33 percent.
This is particularly important for the region, since it is currently a solid net fish exporter and producer of aquaculture, but has the lowest global per capita consumption: only 9.8 kilos per year. In 2015, the region only consumed 6.2 million tonnes of fish, lower than all other regions, except Oceania.
SOFIA forecasts that by 2030, the region will see a 24.2 percent growth in fish production (fisheries and aquaculture) from 12.9 million tonnes to 16 million tonnes.
While currently only four percent of the global population engaged in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors live in Latin America and the Caribbean, in the Brazilian Amazon, for example, households obtain 30 percent of household income from fishing.
By 2030, aquaculture production is projected to continue to expand on all continents, with major increases expected in particular in Latin America, where it will grow by 49 percent, from over 2.7 million tonnes to over four million tonnes.
In the region, 3.8 million people work in aquaculture, which is two percent of the global total.
Employment in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors is growing moderately, while aquaculture production has seen rather high sustained growth.
Latin America and the Caribbean remains a solid net fish exporter. Latin American exports, comprising primarily shrimp, tuna, salmon and fishmeal from Ecuador, Chile and Peru, were boosted in 2016 and again in 2017 by higher production and an upturn in tuna prices.
By 2030, projected fish exports from the region will increase by 29 percent, from 3,9 million tonnes in 2016 up to 5,1 million tonnes. Imports will see an even bigger increase: 53 percent, from 2.3 million tonnes in 2016 to 3.5 million tonnes in 2030.
World total marine catch was 79.3 million tonnes in 2016, representing a decrease of almost two million tonnes from the 81.2 million tonnes in 2015.
Freshwater ecosystems are important sources of food fish and have accounted for about 40 percent of all fish destined for human consumption in recent years. In at least 11 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, 20 percent or more of the people working in capture fisheries work in inland fisheries, although inland fisheries constitute only three percent of catches in the region.