Total catches in 2004 decreased over ten percent in comparison to 2002 in three fishing areas: Northeast Atlantic, Southwest Atlantic and Eastern Central Pacific. In the Northeast Atlantic, for the first time since 1991 catches totalled less than 10 million tonnes. A sharp drop in catches of Argentine shortfin squid by local and distant water fleets (2004 capture production was one ninth of that in 1999) brought down total catch in the Southwest Atlantic to the lowest quantity since 1984. Catches in the Eastern Central Pacific peaked in 2002 at almost 2 million tonnes but in the following two years declined by about 13 percent.
With about 10.7 million tonnes in 2004, the Peruvian anchoveta is by far leading the ranking of the most caught marine species (Figure 3). However, in comparison to the 2002 ranking no dramatic changes occurred in this ranking. The capelin, a small pelagic that in 2002 ranked fourth amongst the top ten species, by 2004 had dropped from this list and was replaced by the yellowfin tuna. Blue whiting and chub mackerel gained some places to the detriment of Japanese anchovy and Chilean jack mackerel.
Catches of oceanic tunas have remained fairly stable since 2002 whereas total catch of deep-water species and of other epipelagic species, mostly oceanic squids, increased over 20 percent between 2002 and 2004. The share of oceanic catches in the total marine catch exceeded 12 percent both in 2003 and 2004.
Regarding trends by species groups, catches of shrimps and cephalopods increased impressively in the decade to 2004 (by 47.2 and 28.4 percent respectively) and at the end of the decade they both marked the highest ever at about 3.6 and 3.8 million tonnes. For the shrimp group an analysis of species trends is difficult due to the high quantities of catches reported as unidentified shrimps. Within the cephalopods it can be noted that increased catches of Jumbo flying squid and of ‘various squid not identified’ from the Pacific compensated the collapse of the Argentine shortfin squid in the Atlantic. Total catches of both tuna and shark decreased in 2004 after they had reached a peak in 2003.
After a minor decrease in 2002, total global inland catches increased again in 2003 and 2004 reaching a total of 9.2 million tonnes in the latter year. Africa and Asia together continue to contribute about 90 percent of the world total (Figure 4) and their shares are also fairly stable. Inland fisheries however seem to be in crisis in Europe where the total catches have decreased by 30 percent since 1999.
The first ten producer countries (Figure 5) remained the same as 2002. Myanmar, Tanzania and Uganda (the latest improved the coverage of its data collection system and consequently also increased the production registered) gained positions whereas Cambodia, Indonesia and Egypt lost places in the ranking.
Trend analysis by species or species groups of the inland catch data in the FAO database risks being biased. There are two main reasons: the very poor species breakdown reported by many countries and the recent large fluctuations within the data for major items in the inland catch statistics reported by China, which represents over one fourth of the global production.
In 2003 and 2004, the percentage of the global inland catches classified as “Freshwater fishes not elsewhere included” again exceeded 50 percent of the total and only about 19 percent of the total inland catch is reported at the species level. This is unfortunate as catch information by species is required for management purposes. In countries where inland fisheries are significant for food security and economic development, particularly in Asia and Africa, mismanagement of inland fisheries would as a rule lead to economic losses far greater than the expenditures needed to significantly improve quality and detail of inland catch statistics.
Following several years of collaboration with FAO, the species breakdown of the inland and marine catch statistics reported by China has improved. However, capture production trends of the three major inland species groups caught in China (i.e. fishes, crustaceans and molluscs) have markedly changed in 2003 and 2004. The halving of “Freshwater crustaceans” catches reported by China in 2004 following an extremely high peak in 2002 caused the drop of this species group from the second to the fifth place in the ranking for the world as whole.
Global catches of tilapias and carps have been growing in the last two years while the capture of shads, species that tend to suffer from environmental alterations as they migrate between waters with different salinities, in 2004 were 12 percent below the quantities reported for 2002.