FAO Report on the State of Global Fisheries and Aquaculture 2020

The United Nations’ new review emphasises sustainability in aquaculture.


The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations has released a new update on the state of world fisheries and aquaculture. The report, known as SOFIA 2020, has a specialised focus on “sustainability in action” as it relates to the growing role of fisheries and aquaculture across the planet.

The report’s focus on sustainability is particularly important to aquaculture, which—as the report confirms—is ever-expanding. According to the report, “aquaculture production attained another all-time record high of 114.5 million tonnes in live weight in 2018” and the production of farmed aquatic animals has grown at an annual average of 5.3% between 2001 and 2018 (Brief p10). This reflects how total fish consumption has been increasing over the last half-century, rising at a faster rate than annual population growth (Brief p15). Though the overall rate of increase may slow over time, aquaculture will fill the supply-demand gap which presently manifests as food fish supply increases in all regions (Brief p26).

SOFIA also details how the FAO’s Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries has shaped policy and sustainability principles worldwide by promoting environmental and conservation concerns. It calls upon fisheries and aquaculture to acknowledge intrinsic issues such as ocean degradation, social responsibility, climate change, and biodiversity.

The report predicts that, by 2030, 62% of global aquaculture production will be composed of freshwater species such as carp and catfish—as well as higher-value species such as salmon, trout, and shrimp (Brief p24).

When considering the report, Professor Ross Houston pointed out how the Roslin Institute's aquaculture team are undertaking to contribute to sustainable grown of aquaculture. He said: “genetic improvement has major potential to increase production efficiency, and to combat infectious diseases.  Much of our team's research can therefore contribute to the SOFIA goals, and help support the growth of global aquaculture for improved food security.”

The ways in which genetic innovation can contribute to sustainable growth in aquaculture are highlighted in a recently published review article led by our team in Nature Reviews Genetics.

2020 is the 75th year since the Food and Agriculture Organization’s creation and the 25th year since it established its Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. “These anniversaries remind us of the reason for our existence,” remarked FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu. “They are calls to action, springboards for change, for a rapidly changing world in need of innovative and transformative solutions to old as well as new problems” (Brief p6).

You can read the report brief via this external PDF link.

You can access the aquaculture team's review article brief through this external link to Nature Reviews Genetics.