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FAO’s blueprint for responsible fisheries management 2 minutes

  Oct 09, 2014

Global fisheries and aquaculture production totalled 158 million metric tons in 2012, about 10 million metric tons more than in 2010, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’ (FAO) latest edition of ‘The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture’. The new report further states that people have never consumed so much fish or depended so greatly on their sector as they do today.


Led by the top-three fishing nations of China, Indonesia and the United States, the contribution from wild-capture fisheries towards the total production in 2012 stood at 91.3 million metric tons, up from 33.9 million metric tons in 1960. Over the same period of time, global per capita fish consumption has increased from 10kg to 19kg—driven by higher demand from a growing population, rising incomes and more efficient distribution channels.

Furthermore, the FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department estimates that the total number of fishing vessels in the world has swelled to around 4.7 million.



In 1995, which was the 50th year of the FAO, the UN agency introduced its Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, based on input from 170 nations. This code contains a series of policy principles, technical guidelines and best practices for conducting fishing and aquaculture in a responsible way. It was created to address reports that indicated that many of the world’s fisheries were approaching maximum production levels, and remains just as important to achieving sustainability today as it did nearly two decades ago.

The code promotes the responsible use of aquatic resources and habitat conservation to help boost the sector’s contribution to food security, poverty alleviation and social wellbeing.

Globally, the code’s priority is the establishment of responsible fisheries with due consideration of relevant biological, technical, economic, social, environmental and commercial aspects.



For statistical purposes, 27 so-called “major fishing areas” have also been internationally established by the FAO. These comprise eight major inland fishing areas covering the inland waters of the continents and 19 major marine fishing areas covering the waters of the Atlantic, Indian, Pacific and Southern Oceans, with their adjacent seas. The area boundaries were largely determined based on the advice of various leading international fishery agencies.

In 2012, the total output from these marine fishing areas was 79.7 million metric tons, led by Area 61 (Northwest Pacific) with 21.5 million metric tons of product and Area 71 (Western Central Pacific) with 12.1 million metric tons, reflecting the extensive and still growing catches by Asian countries.

As a major deep-frozen seafood supplier, Pittman Seafoods sources a lot of wild-fishery species from many of the areas, including: cod from Area 27 (Northeast Atlantic), which incorporates both the Icelandic and Norwegian fisheries; lobster, snow crab, scallops and coldwater shrimp from Area 18 (Arctic Sea); and cod, wild salmon, Alaska pollock and yellowfin sole from Area 61.

With regards to fisheries, Pittman always keep three parameters in mind: biological characteristics, ecological effects and management. Above all, the company always knows precisely where its fish comes from.



As food-chain traceability is a growing requirement in major fish markets, the FAO also provides technical guidelines on certification and eco-labelling, which can help producers demonstrate that their fish has been caught legally from a sustainably managed fishery or produced in a responsibly operated aquaculture facility.

Today, 71 per cent of the commercially important marine-fish stocks monitored by FAO are fished within biologically sustainable levels, confirming that improvements have been made in recent years.

Moving forward, FAO is promoting its new “Blue Growth” framework, which is also detailed in the report, as a coherent approach for the sustainable, integrated and socio-economically sensitive management of oceans and wetlands. The initiative focuses on capture fisheries, aquaculture, ecosystem services, trade and social protection of coastal communities, and FAO believes it is an approach that could reap an estimated potential economic gain of €37.4 billion per year for fisheries alone.