Global, Regional and National Perspectives
New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series
Edited by Nigel Bankes, Irene Dahl and David L. VanderZwaag
Chapter 1: Introduction: navigating multilevel governance in aquaculture
This volume of essays examines the legal and related policy issues associated with the development of the aquaculture sector, principally in relation to marine aquaculture or mariculture operations. There is little doubt about the current and future global importance of aquaculture. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) report on The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture (2014) notes that global fish production has grown steadily ‘with food fish supply growing at an average annual rate of 3.2 per cent, outpacing world population growth at 1.6 per cent’. However, most observers consider that the capture fishery is unlikely to grow and thus, if overall fish production is to continue to outpace population growth and contribute to increased availability of food protein and food security, this enhanced production will need to come from the aquaculture sector. The importance of fish-based protein production for food security can hardly be overestimated. According to the FAO, ‘[f]ish protein can represent a crucial nutritional component in some densely populated countries where total protein intake levels may be low’. The global capture fishery in marine waters was 82.6 million tonnes in 2011 and 79.7 million tonnes in 2012 (with the difference principally due to a decline in the anchoveta catch). The total aquaculture production in 2013 (both marine and inland) was about 97.2 million tonnes, including close to 70.2 million tonnes of food fish and 27 million tonnes of aquatic plants (principally seaweeds). Inland aquaculture operations continue to dominate. Of the 70.2 million tonnes of food fish production, close to 44.7 million tonnes is attributable to inland aquaculture. However, finfish grown in mariculture operations generally have a higher unit value than species grown in inland aquaculture operations. Thus, broken down by value, food fish from mariculture operations contribute about 44 per cent of the total; broken down by production such operations contribute nearly 36 per cent. The growth in the aquaculture sector has been both rapid and dramatic. Thus, while aquaculture contributed 43.1 per cent of total production in 2013, it was only 5 per cent in 1962 and 37 per cent in 2002.