Opportunities in Aquaculture

Published - Oct 2003| Analyst - Lynn Gray| Code - FOD010C
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Report Highlights

  • The total worldwide aquaculture market is expected to grow at an average annual rate (AAGR) of 7.3% from $65.9 billion in 2003 to $93.7 billion in 2008.
  • Tonnage will rise from 60 metric tons to 75.9 metric tons at an AAGR of 4.2% during the period.
  • By 2008, aquacultured products will represent more than 48% of worldwide foodfish production.
  • Fishmeal aquafeeds will increase from $3.45 billion in 2003 to $3.9 billion in 2008.
  • Nonfishmeal aquafeeds will see an AAGR of 7.6% through 2008.


Technological, demographic and market changes have fundamentally altered the manner in which food is grown, processed and perceived. One of the greatest impacts on the seafood industry has been the gradual decline in supplies from traditional ocean or wild harvest methods. For the past decade, the worldwide ocean capture fishery industry essentially has been stagnant and no recovery is expected.

As the world population has increased, so has demand for seafood products, with a greater percentage of people worldwide consuming seafood in 2003 than the previous 20 years. Further, consumers are increasingly demanding consistent quality and availability of seafood at reasonable prices. All of these factors directly lead to a rapid expansion of aquaculture as a booming commercial market. Indeed, in 2003, aquaculture is growing more rapidly than all other food-producing sectors.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) defines aquaculture as the farming of aquatic organisms including fish, crustaceans, mollusks and aquatic plants. The term “farming” of course, implies some form of intervention in the rearing process to enhance production, i.e., directed growth and/or a controlled environment. In 1970, only 3.9% of total seafood production by weight (including freshwater species in the broad definition) was produced by aquaculture. Most seafood, therefore, came from capture fishery.

This comprehensive report provides an analysis of the world aquaculture market. It covers the industry’s products (e.g., finfish, crustaceans and mollusks), technology (e.g., production systems, hatcheries, aquafeeds, pharmaceuticals), driving forces, markets, government involvement, funding, regulations, and challenges and needs. It also presents company profiles. The report’s forecasts span the years 2003 through 2008. The study provides a comprehensive analysis of the industry, its products and its needs.


The scope of the study is worldwide and provides:

  • An overview, including worldwide production areas and trends by country
  • Descriptions and analyses of products, including production volumes and market values
  • Analysis of technologies e.g., production systems, their application and products
  • A review of the industry including model aquaculture operations worldwide
  • Regulatory issue analysis
  • Company profiles of large and small companies, with an emphasis on feed and systems manufacturers serving the aquaculture market.


The base year for this study is 2002. Figures are based on revenue figures at the producers' or manufacturers' level and are projected at 2002 dollar value; that is, inflation is not computed into the projection figures. Aquaculture, like other agriculture sectors, is influenced by factors that are irrelevant in many other types of markets. These influences include weather, unpredictable outbreaks of disease, availability and pricing of feed and feed ingredients, etc. Therefore, market volume and value forecasts are based on an assumption of stable conditions in inherently unstable areas combined with estimated production, prices and demand for products.

Information to prepare this study was provided by participants in the aquaculture market, such as aquaculture product and technology firms, as well as representatives of trade organizations who track the market. Data was accessed from government agencies and regulatory bodies that monitor and/or regulate agriculture and products utilized in its production. Searches of secondary material such as company annual reports and 10Ks, journal articles, prospectus assessments and data from relevant institutions were also conducted.

It should be noted that global sales and production figures for the aquaculture industry available in 2003 from government agencies, trade organizations and others usually are several years old. Therefore, the most recent international data is in many cases for years prior to 2000.


The information and analysis presented in this report are based on an extensive survey of the aquaculture, agriculture and food-producing industries as well as a detailed examination of published literature and reports obtained from regulatory authorities, trade associations and national and world economic development organizations. Organizations specifically involved in the aquaculture industry include the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA), National Aquaculture Association (NAA) and the World Aquaculture Association (WAS). Information was also obtained from interviews with researchers at national aquaculture centers in the U.S. as well as with owners and marketing managers at aquaculture production facilities and aquaculture, feed, technology and systems producers.


Lynn Gray has been a research analyst since 1989 and with BCC since 1996. During that time, she has authored numerous reports in the biomedical field, 18 for BCC alone. BA, University of California, Riverside, 1973.

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