December 3, 2022

Significant growth in aquaculture has impacted positively on global fisheries and aquaculture production in the last four  years, according to data from  the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). 

World aquaculture production attained another all-time record high of 114.5 million tonnes in live weight in 2018 with a total farmgate sale value of $263.6 billion. In 2019, Total volume of fisheries  production was estimated at 4,421.22 thousand metric tons,

Fisheries and aquaculture production rose around three per cent  since 2018, to an all-time high of 214 million metric tonnes in 2020, with a first-sale value. In 2020, global aquaculture production reached a record 122.6 million tonnes, with a total value of USD 281.5 billion. Aquatic animals accounted for 87.5 million tonnes and algae comprised 35.1 million tonnes.

With its projections, FAO explains that growth in the aquaculture sector recovered from last year, by 2.9 percent, to 92.2 million tonnes this year.

In 2018, according to World Fish Centre, Total fish production per year in Nigeria was close to 1 million metric tons (313,231 metric tonnes from aquaculture and 759,828 metric tonnes from fisheries. However, researchers have analysed how Nigeria can achieve its target of producing 2.5 million tonnes of farmed fish annually, and believe their work could provide similar insights in other countries.

Experts from the University of Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture (UK) used scenario analysis for the first time at a national scale for aquaculture in Africa to examine the changes required to meet Nigeria’s target, set in 2017.

Fish is one of the cheapest sources of protein, and is already making a significant contribution to feeding Nigeria’s growing population, yet the current production of farmed fish is around 300,000 tonnes per annum. The industry is often overlooked compared to agriculture – the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy – and its main export, crude oil, the researchers said.

Suleiman Yakubu, PhD researcher at the Institute of Aquaculture, said: “Nigeria is the second largest producer of farmed fish in Africa after Egypt, yet we still have some ways to go before we can achieve the 2.5m tonnes aquaculture potential estimated by the government. We wanted to answer the question, is this achievable by 2035? And if so, how can it be done in a sustainable way?”

The researchers began by using stakeholder interviews to identify four priority constraints: cost and availability of fish feed; land use; policy intersection and research investment.

They then used scenario analysis – a mix of qualitative and quantitative modelling principles – to assess what combinations of factors would put Nigeria on track towards its target.

Mr Yakubu said: “Only one of the wide range of scenarios tested allowed Nigeria to achieve its potential in relation to the critical factors.

“Firstly, improving farmers’ access to quality fish feed through the development of local feed resources is necessary. At the moment, more than half of fish feed is imported, which is prohibitively expensive and inefficient.”Secondly, promoting aquaculture to be part of land use classification in Nigeria would allow the activity to be included in land use zoning plans, and to designate expansion areas for larger production systems. Currently, around 80 percent of fish farming in Nigeria is in small-scale ponds in urban and peri-urban areas, with no room for expansion, and no way of monitoring it.”

Professor Trevor Telfer, PhD supervisor on the research, said: “Aquaculture is expanding rapidly, as is the world’s population, and can offer a sustainable, low-input way of feeding people. Using data in this way to model scenarios offers an innovative method for governments and industry to plan collaboratively for the sustainable expansion of complex sectors such as aquaculture.”

The research was funded by the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission. The paper, Scenario analysis and land use change modelling reveal opportunities and challenges for sustainable expansion of aquaculture in Nigeria, is published in Aquaculture Reports.

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