Tuesday, January 20, 2015

20/01/2015: Securing the Future

Aquaculture growth and role in global food production
by Albert GJ Tacon of Aquatic Farms Ltd, Kaneohe, HI, USA and Marc Metian of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Monaco, Principality of Monaco

Aquaculture has been the world’s most rapidly growing food sector for over a quarter of century, with total global production (includes all farmed aquatic plants and animals) increasing nine-fold from 10.2 million tonnes in 1984 to a new record high of 90.4 million tonnes in 2012 (Figure 1, FAO, 2014a).

Valued at over US$144 billion, global aquaculture production has been growing at an average annual rate of 8.1 percent per year since 1984, compared with 0.6 percent per year for total capture fisheries landings and 2.6 percent per year for terrestrial meat production over the same period (Figure 2, FAO, 2014b). 


Moreover, with over 94.7 percent of total global aquaculture production being produced within developing countries (FAO, 2014b; Figure 3), aquaculture is viewed as an important weapon in the global fight against hunger and malnutrition as a much needed provider of high quality food and essential dietary nutrients (Tacon and Metian, 2013).

Notwithstanding the above, and the fact that over 70 percent of the world’s surface is covered with water, aquatic food production (whether captured or farmed) are still dwarfed by terrestrial agricultural food production systems.

Thus, whereas the total food supply of aquatic animal and plant products was estimated at 144 million tonnes in 2011, total food supply from agriculture was over 27-fold greater at 3982 million tonnes (Table 1); captured and farmed aquatic food products contributing less than 3.6 percent of total global agricultural food supply, 1.2 percent of total calorie supply, 1.5 percent of our total fat supply, and 6.7 percent of total protein supply (FAO, 2014b).


Although the current contribution of aquatic food products to global food supply may appear to be small in global terms (Table 1), this is not the case on a regional, country or primary food commodity basis, as follows:

·      At a global level aquatic animal food products accounted for 16.7 percent of the total food supply of animal protein in 2011, with aquatic animal foods providing more than three billion people with almost 20 percentof their average per capita animal protein intake;
·      Aquatic food products represent the major food source of animal protein supply in more than 14 countries within the Asian region, including the Maldives (73.8 percent of their animal protein supply), Cambodia (64.9 percent), Sri Lanka (57.2 percent), Bangladesh (56.0 percent), Indonesia (53.7 percent), Myanmar (41.2 percent), Philippines (40.8 percent), Malaysia (39.3 percent), Korea Rep. (38.9 percent), Japan (38.4 percent), Lao PDR (37.6 percent), Thailand (34.5 percent), Vietnam (29.8 percent), and Korea DPR (27.0 percent);
·      Aquatic food products represent the major source of animal protein supply over in 17 countries within sub-Saharan Africa, including: Sierra Leone (69.7 percent), Comoros (54.4 percent), Ghana (51.2 percent), Sao Tome and Principe (50.9 percent), Gambia (49.3 percent), Equatorial Guinea (48.2 percent), Cameroon (38.5 percent), Congo DPR (38.4 percent), Senegal (43.8 percent), Cote d’Ivoire (39.9 percent), Nigeria (37.9 percent), Mozambique (35.5 percent), Benin (34.8 percent), Uganda (32.1 percent), Guinea (29.5 percent), Congo Republic (28.1 percent) and Malawi (27.0 percent);
·      Over 94.7 percent of total global aquaculture production was produced within developing countries in 2012 (85.66 million tonnes in 2012), with the Asian region accounting for 91.2 percent of total global production, and China alone accounting for 53.9 million tonnes or 59.6 percent of total global aquaculture production in 2012 (Figure 2);
·      Aquatic meat production from aquaculture has been the fastest growing meat producing sector since 1970, with global production increasing at an average rate of 8.4 percent per year compared with 2.6 percentper year for terrestrial livestock meat production (for the period 1970 to 2012), with farmed aquatic meat production in China representing the second most produced meat after pork in 2012 (pork at 50.0 million tonnes, farmed aquatic meat 24.7 million tonnes, and chicken meat at 13.2 million tonnes in 2012, respectively; FAO, 2014a, 2014b); 
·      Whereas per capita supply of aquatic meat from capture fisheries has been steadily decreasing after reaching a high of 9.0 kg in 1986, per capita aquatic meat supply from aquaculture has been increasing at an average annual rate of 6.8 percent since 1970, and global production is expected to equal capture fisheries production by 2015 (Tacon and Metian, 2013).

Rapid growth of compound feed-dependent fish and crustacean species
In contrast to aquatic plants and molluscs (43 percent of total aquaculture production in 2012; Figure 2), where production is largely based upon the absorption and utilization of dissolved nutrients and/or plankton naturally present within the culture environment (often referred to as extractive aquaculture), the production of farmed fish and crustaceans (56 percent of total aquaculture production in 2012) is dependent upon the external provision and supply of feed inputs.


Feed inputs vary depending upon the feeding habit and market value of the cultured species, with the bulk of farmed fish and crustaceans being fed industrially compounded complete feeds (ca. 70 percent of total fish and crustacean production in 2012), followed by farm-made supplementary feeds (ca. 25 percent of total production, fed mainly to lower-value herbivorous filter feeding freshwater fish species within fertilized ponds and reservoirs) and whole/frozen fresh feed items such as lower value fish species (ca. five percent of total finfish and crustacean production, fed mainly to higher-value marine carnivorous fish species).

In contrast to industrially compounded aquafeeds, the total global production of farm-made aquaculture feeds and lower value fish species as feed is still largely undocumented, and it has been estimated that global production is between 15 to 30 million tonnes and three to six million tonnes, respectively (Hasan et al., 2007; Hasan and Halwart, 2008; Tacon et al., 2011).

In terms of industrially compounded aquafeeds, it is estimated that approximately 35.7 million tonnes of farmed fish and crustaceans (39.5 percent of the total global aquaculture production) was dependent upon the use and supply of industrially compounded aquafeeds in 2012 (Figure 4), with the total production of compound aquafeed estimated at approximately 39.6 million tonnes (Figure 5), with feed production growing at an average annual rate of 10.3 percent per year (Figure 6).

The major industrially fed species, in order of species group production in 2012 (FAO, 2014a).

In addition to the above species, it is important to mention that over 11.8 million tonnes of predominantly filter-feeding finfish species (includes Silver carp, Bighead carp, Catla, Rohu, and Mrigal carp) were also produced in 2012; these species representing 26.7 percent of total finfish aquaculture production in 2012 (FAO, 2014a).

As mentioned previously, these lower value species (from a marketing perspective) are usually reared together as a polyculture (Silver carp and Bighead carp in China, and Catla, Rohu and Mrigal carp in India and Bangladesh) at low stocking densities within fertilized ponds and freshwater bodies, with little or no external feed inputs being provided other than the use of occasional supplementary feed mixtures in the case of the Indian major carps (for review see Hasan et al., 2007)


Whilst the aquaculture sector may have been successful in the past in securing dietary feed inputs (aquaculture representing less than four percent of total global compound animal feed production; estimated at ca.1,000 million tonnes in 2013), this may not be the case in the future as the sector grows and matures into a major consumer of feed ingredients.

This is particularly true for those carnivorous fish species with less flexible feeding habits. For example, despite its relatively small size compared with terrestrial animal feed production, the aquaculture sector consumed an estimated 68 percent of the total global fishmeal production and 74 percent of the total global fish oil production in 2012, with the major consumers including higher value shrimp, salmonid and marine fish species in the case of fishmeal, and salmonids and marine fish in the case of fish oil, respectively (IFFO - International Fishmeal and Fishoil Organisation, Andrew Jackson, personal communication)

Clearly, as in terrestrial animals, those aquatic species feeding lower on the aquatic food chain (includes most herbivorous and omnivorous fish and crustacean species) will be less restricted by ingredient selection and supply than carnivorous species; the latter often having a specific requirement for long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids and essential amino acids only found in animal feeds. However, as the dependence upon lower-cost plant-based ingredients increases, then so the risk of possible mycotoxin contamination increases.

Sadly, there is a paucity of practical information concerning the toxicity and dietary effects of long term exposure of the myriad of different mycotoxins on farmed fish and crustaceans, or concerning the potential health implications of these toxins on human health and food safety (Tacon and Metian, 2008).
It is hoped that this paper will help is raising awareness to this important issue and that increased research effort be focused on mycotoxin toxicity within the major farmed fed fish and crustacean species.

Read more HERE.

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