1 Living with the oceans. – A report on the state of the world's oceans

State of affairs


Extra Info The fate of the cod

Stock assessment – a difficult task

assessing fish stocks
is a difficult task. As it is not possible to count fish individually, stock sizes are now estimated using mathematical models. Current catch figures from the fishing industry are an important source of data in this endeavor. The models also take account of the effort that must be employed in order to catch this quantity of fish, based, for example, on the number of fishing days or the fleet size – for the fewer the fish there are in the sea, the greater the effort needed to achieve a specific catch volume. However, even today not all catches are reported, so the
available data may be incomplete.
The mathematical models therefore also include information from scientific test catches, which are regularly carried out by fisheries biologists and include data on the age structure of the fish stocks and stock density. Measured in terms of total catch weight, the People’s Republic of China tops the list of the world’s leading fishing nations by a clear margin; China claims to land an estimated 14 million tonnes of fish or more annually. In second place is Peru, with an annual catch weight of around 7 million tonnes. In regional terms, the North­­west Pacific (19.8 million tonnes) and the Southeast Pacific (11.8 million tonnes) are the fishing areas yielding the largest catches. With annual production of 7 to 10 million tonnes, the Peruvian anchoveta is the most productive marine species. It is a mainstay of the Peruvian fishing industry and is also caught by other countries. Second in the ranking is Alaska pollock (Theragra chalcogramma) (2.9 million tonnes), followed by Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) (2.4 million tonnes).
6.3 > Die wichtigsten Fischereinationen nach Fangmenge. © maribus (after FAO Fishstat)

6.3 > Top producer countries, based on catch

6.6 > Catches by region in tonnes (live weight) (2007)

6.6 > Catches by region in tonnes (live weight) (2007). © maribus (after FAO Fishstat)

6.9 > Utilization of fisheries production (breakdown by quantity), 2006. “Non-food purposes” largely consists of the production of fish meal and fish oil for use in fish or livestock farming. © maribus (after FAO Fishstat) 6.9 > Utilization of fisheries production (breakdown by quantity), 2006. “Non-food purposes” largely consists of the production of fish meal and fish oil for use in fish or livestock farming.

Generating billions in revenue – with fish meal and gourmet fillets

The estimated landed value of fish globally is around USD 90 billion. Even more added value is generated in the processing industry, which turns the fresh catch into a variety of fishery products. The commercial value of different fish species varies considerably, firstly due to the different amounts available on the world markets and, secondly, because various fish species enjoy different levels of popularity among consumers.
Rare species of tuna can command prices in excess of 100 euros per kilogram on the Asian market,
whereas fishermen are paid as little as 10 to 20 cent for a kilo of sprats. The prices of fishery products also depend on how the catches are processed. Broken down by quantity, the various forms of utilization of world fisheries production have remained more or less constant over recent years. Around three-quarters of the catch is destined for direct human consumption, with approximately half of this reaching the final consumer in the form of fresh fish, a quarter being processed into frozen food products, and a further quarter being preserved by curing, pickling or canning before being brought to market. The remaining 23 per cent of the catch is processed into fish meal and fish oil, mainly for the feedstuffs industry, and is used in aquaculture and poultry farming, for example.
The significance of fish in terms of its contribution to the human diet also varies from region to region.
Consumption of fishery products is heavily dependent on the availability of other food sources and proximity to the sea. Worldwide, approximately 16.4 kilograms of fishery products (live weight) per capita per year (average for 2003 to 2005) are used for consumption. This figure includes products from inland fisheries and aquaculture. However, per capita consumption in the European Union countries (EU-15) is 25.7 kilograms – well above this average. Compared with countries such as Spain (42.6 kilograms) and Portugal (55.4 kilograms), where fish has traditionally formed a major part of the diet, per capita consumption of fishery products in Germany is 14.3 kilograms, and hence broadly in line with the global average. Fishing and aquaculture provide employment for an estimated 43.5 million people worldwide, mostly in Asian and African countries. The People’s Republic of China accounts for the major share, with more than 12 million people employed in fishing and aquaculture. Textende