Global, Regional and National Perspectives
New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series
Edited by Nigel Bankes, Irene Dahl and David L. VanderZwaag
Chapter 3: Aquaculture and trade: trade law and trade-related multilateral environmental agreements
This chapter examines how trade in the products of aquaculture is treated under both general trade law and trade-related multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs). According to the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) 2014 report, State of the World Fisheries and Aquaculture, farmed fish contributed a record 42.2 per cent of the total 158 million tonnes produced or taken by both the aquaculture and capture fisheries. The same report also notes that ‘[a]quaculture is contributing to a growing share of international trade in fishery commodities’ from both high value species such as salmon, shrimp and prawns as well as lower value species such as tilapia and catfish (including Pangasius). While it is difficult to be precise about the contribution from aquaculture since the statistical classification used to record trade in fish does not distinguish between wild and farmed fish, all agree that further growth in international trade in fish and fish products will inevitably have to come from the aquaculture sector rather than the capture fishery. Most of the trade in fish is between developed countries (80 per cent by value in 2012) although exports from developing countries (especially China, Vietnam and Thailand) have increased significantly in recent decades. Net exports of fish from developing countries have risen from about USD 11 billion in 1991 to USD 18 billion in 2001 to about USD 33 billion in 2011. Trade in fish responds to several factors, including the overall health of the global economy. Key aquaculture species in international trade include salmon (especially from the two principal exporters of farmed salmon, Norway and Chile), groundfish (including farmed tilapia and Pangasius) and shrimp. There is also a growing trade in fish oil as a human nutritional supplement and as an important ingredient for feeds for some carnivorous farmed fish such as salmon.
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