Aquaculture - Regional breakdown

Regional breakdown

The FAO states that production of farmed fish is dominated by Asia (89% of the global total in volume terms in the last 20 years). Chile, China and Norway are the top producers in the Americas, Asia and Europe. All three experienced growth in 2020 (SOFIA report, 2022).

The table below shows the global distribution of aquaculture production by region (SOFIA report, 2022):

aquaculture production - main players


Carp is the most produced farmed fish species group. Production is expected to decline by 2032, the continuation of a downward trend that started in the late 1990s. Meanwhile the proportion of shrimps and prawns is projected to increase, while the shares of tilapia and salmonids will remain broadly stable (2023 FAO-OECD report).

Aquaculture feed

Fishmeal and fish oil are important ingredients in aquaculture feed. As stated in FAO's 2022 SOFIA report (p77), "fishmeal and fish oil are still considered the most nutritious and most digestible ingredients for farmed fish, as well as the major source of omega-3 fatty acids (eicosapentaenoic acid [EPA] and docosahexaenoic acid [DHA])." 

The production of fishmeal is about 5 million tonnes each year. A growing share of fishmeal and fish oil is being produced from fish by-products: "The expansion of processing of fisheries and aquaculture production has resulted in increasing quantities of by-products, which may represent up to 70 percent of processed fish, depending on the size, species and type of processing.[...] Heads, frames, fillet cut-offs, belly flaps and parts of the viscera such as liver and roe are particularly good sources of nutrients such as long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins A, D and B12, as well as minerals such as iron, zinc, calcium, phosphorus and selenium." (FAO's 2022 SOFIA report, page 79). 

According to IFFO, in 2021, 30 percent of the global production of fishmeal and 51 percent of the total production of fish oil were obtained from by-products.

Aquaculture production will be able to expand because of improved efficiency in the use of fishmeal and its specialised uses.

Information on fishmeal and its use in aquaculture can be found in the articles below:

Fishmeal and Fish Oil and its role in Sustainable Aquaculture Publication: Andrew Jackson, International Aquafeed, 2012, September/October, p18-21
How much whole fish does aquaculture consume? (Only in Spanish) Publication: Andrew Jackson and Francisco Aldon, InfoPesca International, 2012, 49, p24 - 27
Is Fishmeal for Aquaculture Sustainable? Publication: Andrew Jackson, IFFO versus Willie McKenzie, Greenpeace, The Longliner, Issue 3, p10
Connections between farmed and wild fish: Fishmeal and fish oil as ingredients in sustainable aquaculture Publication: Andrew Jackson and Jonathan Shepherd, Advancing the aquaculture Agenda: Workshop Proceedings, 2010, p 331 - 343
Fishmeal, Fish oil - Prime feed ingredients not limiting factors for responsible aquaculture Publication: Andrew Jackson, Global Aquaculture Advocate, 2010, January/February, p14-17
The continuing demand for sustainable Fishmeal and Fish oil in aquaculture diets Publication: Andrew Jackson, International Aquafeed, 2009, September/October, p 28 - 32
European Aquaculture Society - Fish In - Fish Out Ratios explained Publication: Andrew Jackson, Aquaculture Europe, 2009, Vol 34 (3), p5 - 10
How much fish to produce 1 Kg of salmon?- Fish In - Fish Out (FIFO) Ratios explained Publication: Andrew Jackson, Aquaculture Europe, 2009, Vol 34 (3), p 5 - 10
Fishmeal "still best" Publication: Andrew Jackson, Fish Farming International, 2008, September, p 32-33
Fishmeal and fish oil - will they limit the development of aquaculture? Publication: Andrew Jackson, Feed Technology Update, 2007, Vol 2, Issue 1
The importance of Fishmeal and Fish oil in aquaculture diets Publication: Andrew Jackson, International Aquafeed, 2006, November/December, p16 - 19
Protein Supply Balance FIN document 2007
Effect of Different Dietary Protein and Oil Levels in Diet on Growth of Tilapia Comparison of Aquaculture Grade (South American) and Locally Produced Fish Meals. Research Report 1998-9
The role of fishmeal in diets for salmonids Technical Bulletin TB24 1990
The role of fish oil in feeds for farmed fish Technical Bulletin TB25 1990