The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations made a significant announcement in 2022, indicating a milestone shift in aquaculture. For the first time, farming aquatic animals like fish, shrimp, and clams has exceeded wild fisheries in terms of global production. In 2022 alone, over 185 million tons of aquatic animals were harvested, according to the FAO’s latest report. This revelation highlights the stagnation in wild fisheries’ yields over the past three decades due to natural constraints.

Experts attribute the rise of aquaculture to increasing awareness of its nutritional benefits and lower environmental impact compared to land-based animal farming. Manuel Barange, head of FAO’s fisheries and aquaculture division, stressed these advantages. While wild-caught aquatic animal numbers slightly decreased from 91.6 to 91 million tons, aquaculture production surged from 91.1 to 94.4 million tons during the same period. Asia leads global aquaculture, accounting for over 90% of production. Approximately 90% of farmed or captured aquatic animals are intended for human consumption, with the remainder used for animal feed and fish oils. Commonly farmed species include freshwater carp, oysters, clams, shrimp, tilapia, and prawns, while primary species caught in the wild comprise Peruvian anchovies, skipjack tuna, and Alaskan pollock. This shift underscores the ongoing evolution in global fisheries and aquaculture, emphasizing the constraints of natural fisheries and the potential of sustainable aquaculture.