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Most consumed seafood

Which seafood is consumed in largest quantities around the world and how has it changed over time?
© FoodUnfolded

Which seafood is consumed in largest quantities around the world and how has it changed over time?

Over the past 50 years, annual global consumption of seafood products per capita has more than doubled, from almost 10 kg in 1960 to over 20 kg in 2014.

China leads the world in its seafood consumption footprint* with 65 million tonnes of seafood every year, followed by the European Union and Japan with 13 million and 7.4 million tonnes of seafood per year respectively.

In seafood consumption per capita, the Republic of Korea scores highest with 78.5 kg per capita followed by Norway (66.6 kg), Portugal (61.4 kg), Myanmar (59.9 kg) and Japan (58 kg). For reference, a typical fish filet which serves as a single portion is about 200 grams, meaning that 66.6 kg of seafood is around 333 fish filets.[1]

*Seafood consumption footprint: the biomass of domestic and imported seafood production required to satisfy national seafood consumption.[1]

Which species are captured the most?

Globally, the most captured fish species (in weight) are:[2]

  • The Peruvian anchovy: Although also adequate to eat as a whole fish, the majority of Peruvian anchovy are turned into fish oil for feed and capsules, as well as fishmeal, mainly used in aquaculture.[3]
  • The Alaska pollock: This member of the cod family, also known as Walleye Pollock, is found in the North Pacific Ocean and is characterised by being a relatively sustainable choice of seafood, as fishing is done at recommended levels and it is one of the cleanest in terms of incidental catch of other species (less than 1%).[4]
  • The Skipjack tuna: Skipjack are the smallest and most abundant of the major commercial tuna species.[5] They are found mostly in the tropical areas of the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans. Large schools of skipjack tuna often mix with yellowfin and bigeye tuna. If you combine all species of tuna it is the most abundantly caught fish in weight. Most canned tuna is destined for the markets of the United States of America and the European Union, while Japan is the world’s largest importer of fresh and frozen tuna in whole or loin form. Bluefin and bigeye tuna are often favored for sashimi and sushi, while skipjack, albacore and yellowfin are often found in canned and other prepared and preserved products.[6]

Which species are most consumed?

We can measure the most abundantly consumed species in two different ways; by volume or by value. By value salmon is the largest single fish commodity in the world and by volume or weight it is tuna.[6]

Regionally, in the European Union, tuna, cod, salmon, Alaska pollock and shrimps account for around 44% of the total volume consumed.[7]

Caught or Farmed?

Aquaculture is the farming of aquatic plants and animals. It is the fastest growing food sector on the planet and provides over half of the fish we consume.[6]

Around 70% of globally consumed salmon is farmed, surpassing the numbers of wild-caught salmon. The sustainability of a type of fish will depend on whether it is wild caught or farmed.[9] While farming fish can reduce pressure on wild fish stocks, making space for aquaculture farms can have negative impacts on local marine or freshwater ecosystems. Additionally, the use of wild fish as feed for farmed fish leaves questions about overall sustainability; as we saw with the Peruvian Anchovy, around 20% of annual catch harvested from the ocean is used to make fish feed, and thus still affects wild fish stocks.[10]

The major species produced in aquaculture are the Grass carp, Silver carp and River tilapia, the three of which are popularly farmed in China, the leading country in aquaculture production, and other East Asian countries.[6] In Europe, commonly farmed species include salmon, trout, seabream, seabass and carp, with Norway being the dominant aquaculture producer in the continent.[11]

Did you know that most Europeans struggle to identify the fish they eat?

720 participants from across Europe were asked to identify 6 commonly sold fish species from pictures in a new study and the results showed that more than half of participants were unable to name even two species correctly. Spanish participants performed the best, with an average accuracy score of 38%. On the other hand, UK participants had an accuracy score of 18%, with the average participant guessing only one species correctly.

Do you think you can identify the names of the commonly consumed fish presented in the survey?

Try for yourself with the picture below![8]


Answers can be found in the PDF attached below.

Author: Inés Oort Alonso

© FoodUnfolded
This article is from the free online

Sustainable Seafood: Barriers and Opportunities in the Fishing Industry

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