What are the World’s Largest Fishing Countries?

How much fish is produced yearly?

The fishing sector is currently experiencing its best moment in terms of production and, moreover, improving year after year. The total world catch is usually around 100 megatons, with 90% being saltwater and almost 10% fresh or continental water. This represents 15% of the total protein of animal origin consumed on the planet. Obviously, international trade in fish products is also growing, reaching maximum levels practically year after year (with some exceptions).

Even so, the planet’s population is growing at a faster rate than fish production, which is why every year the amount of food per capita is less at a global level, standing at around 13 kilos. Consumption decreases in many countries, it is maintained in others and where it has grown it has done so in an almost unmentionable way.

The figures that are currently being used are usually compared with those that were given until the year in which the El Niño phenomenon occurred, which made that exercise a real disaster. In general, it is increasing, with growth occurring mainly in the interior of Asia, the central-eastern area of the Pacific Ocean and in the Indian Ocean. The North Pacific, for its part, is showing small declines, which is not surprising either if we consider that it is one of the waters most affected by increasing global warming.

Of course, although we can consider that we find certain stability in terms of capture fishing, there are remarkable differences given by regions. For example, the North Pacific has doubled its catches in 30 years. Of this production, China has gone on to catch 10% while before the percentage was three times less. Interestingly, other countries in this region have even halved their catches.

As for aquaculture, its production is increasing significantly. Moreover, it is confirmed that this practice has yet to be developed considerably in many places, so that very promising exercises are expected in the near future in this regard.

Thus, the aspects that remain to be improved would be the sustainability of fishing because, although everyone is happy that there are good catch figures, there are over-exploited waters and more and more endangered species. It is also intended to achieve greater efficiency in terms of management, highlighting the improvement in data collection and reliability and in the handling of these.

Some of the immediate objectives of FAO are the good use of statistics, the production of computer programs and manuals, the training of officials to carry out management tasks, the development of the different national statistical systems (as well as their standardization), the “personal” collection of statistics, the verification of the veracity of the data, the possibility of consultations on anomalies and the publication of various fishing statistics with the possibility of direct and quality feedback.


Every year, China remains in first place and, moreover, with a subtle increase in each period. An important part of this growth is due to the country’s new tendency to capture cephalopods from the southern Pacific and Atlantic oceans, which have been counted for more than half a million tons. The last few years have seen figures of around 15 million tonnes, or 25 kg of food per person. 45% comes from capture and the remaining 55% from aquaculture.


Another country that doesn’t leave its post every year. Its pace is also increasing, this one being very subtle but bigger than China’s. They do so because there is better coverage of certain landing points that are dispersed. Even so, the difference with respect to the first place is abysmal, with a total production that barely reaches 6 million tons.

United States

The third on the podium is also maintained in each of the annual studies that are carried out. However, unlike the two previous ones, in the last decade (with the exception of one year), it is suffering a minimal decline, coming close to 5 million tonnes.


Although it recently took fourth place, with subtle but constant increases in its fish production, to over 4 million tonnes, it is currently falling back very slowly, which is why it is possible that after a few exercises we will see it change places again.


Japan has held this position for almost a decade but, fortunately or unfortunately, it is possible that it will retrace its steps, as the water mass has fallen by some 4 million tonnes.


Peru presents not stable figures in terms of fishing production, with jumps of 40% decrease from one year to another, increases of 15% and another 40%, this in three consecutive years. It remains at 3.5 million tons.


India remains both in place and in numbers, with a very but very subtle increase that is not even mentioned in the studies. 3,450,000 tonnes of fish put the country in seventh place.


Vietnam is showing a rise that continues year after year. In three years the increase has been 500,000 tons of food.

Myanmar (Burma)

This country has spent years providing misleading data based on targets rather than actual figures. That is why FAO is working with them to get true and accurate information. The result is expected to be negative, with fewer catches than have been reported so far. On the other hand, however, both the country’s coverage and its fishing systems have improved considerably.


Finally, we find Norway, a country that, despite offering the most famous fish in the world, does not even rival the previous one, staying in tenth place. Furthermore, its presence in the top 10 fishing countries in the world has only recently come about due to the decrease in Chile’s catch and not due to the increase in the catch in the country we are dealing with. Currently, it handles some 2.3 million tons of marine mass. If you are curious, know that Spain would enter the top 20, with just over a million.

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