Short and Long-term Prospects for Consumption of Fish
If real prices for fish remain at the levels they had attained by 1999, in the year 2050 demand for fish and shellfish as food could be of the order of 270 million tons (live weight equivalent) per year. If producers were able to supply these quantities consumption would rise by 176% over this 50-year period. To meet the demand supply would have to expand at the rate of 2.1% annually; but, a review of the pattern of population growth -- and of historical patterns of increases in per capita consumption of fish -- shows that annual growth in the volume of fish demanded is likely to be largest in the coming two decades, and then to taper off. Will producers be able to deliver?
It is clear that wild marine stocks at present harvested by capture fishermen cannot support fisheries that would yield much more than 100 million tons per year and of this amount a significant proportion will continue to be used for fish meal and oil production. The question therefore narrows down to: can aquaculture, or non-traditional marine species, supply the required amounts?
The historical context of supply is considerably different from that which has prevailed during the past 30 years. At that time the growing demand in OECD countries was met partly through imports of fish produced in the seas and lakes of developing countries. During coming decades the increased demand in developing countries must be met essentially through their own resources. In fact, in poor countries it seems unlikely that supply will respond to demand unless they experience economic growth.
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