Seafood plays a big role in relieving one of the world’s biggest challenges: feeding nearly 10 billion people by 2050. Seafood provides 17 percent of the global population’s intake of animal protein and global fish consumption topped 44 pounds per person in 2014, a record high. In the U.S. seafood consumption is closer to 15 pounds per person.
The biennial State of World Fisheries Report from the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization is loaded with facts that tell how the U.S. and Alaska fit into the global fishing picture through 2014.
In today’s world, more people eat farmed seafood than wild-caught fish. Nearly 600 different fish, shellfish, plants and other species are farmed around the world.
The total wild capture taken in world oceans was 180 billion pounds, a slight increase over previous years.
The top marine fish producers were China, followed by Indonesia, the U.S., and Russia. In a nod to Alaska, the Northwest Pacific remained the most productive area for capture fisheries and is credited with providing 27 percent of the global catch.
The total number of fishing vessels in the world is estimated at 4.6 million, with Asia accounting for 75 percent, Africa at 15 percent, Latin America and the Caribbean at 6 percent and Europe and North America each at 2 percent of the global fleet. In Alaska, the number of vessels home ported in the state is about 85-hundred.
About 85 percent of the world’s motorized fishing boats are less than 40 feet in length, and small vessels dominated in all regions. In Alaska, 74 percent of the fishing fleet is less than 50 feet; over 90 percent are less than 100 feet.
Surprisingly, the world’s biggest single market for fish imports isn’t China – it’s the 28 countries that comprise the European Union, followed by the U.S. and Japan.
Alaska fishermen produce 18 percent of the total world cod harvest. And for the first time since 1998, anchovies are no longer the world’s top-ranked species in terms of catch. That distinction now goes to Alaska pollock from the Bering Sea.