Field Listing

Marine fisheries

This entry describes the major fisheries in the world's oceans in terms of the area covered, their ranking in terms of the global catch, the main producing countries, and the principal species caught. The information is provided by the Fisheries and Aquaculture Department of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

  • Arctic Ocean

    the Arctic fishery region (Region 18) is the smallest in the world with a catch of only 515 mt in 2019, although the Food and Agriculture Organization assesses that some Arctic catches are reported in adjacent regions; Russia and Canada were historically the major producers; in 2017, Canada, Denmark (Greenland), Iceland, Norway, Russia, and the US, along with the People’s Republic of China, the European Union, Japan, and the Republic of Korea, agreed to a 16 year ban on fishing in the Central Arctic Ocean to allow for time to study the ecological system of these waters

    Regional fisheries bodies: International Council for the Exploration of the Seas

  • Atlantic Ocean

    the Atlantic Ocean fisheries are the second most important in the world accounting for 26.4%, or 21,063,495 mt, of the global catch in 2019; of the seven regions delineated by the Food and Agriculture Organization in the Atlantic basin, the most important include the following:

    Northeast Atlantic region (Region 27) is the fourth most important in the world producing 10.2% of the global catch or 8,116,507 mt in 2019; the region encompasses the waters north of 36º North latitude and east of 40º West longitude with the major producers including Norway (3,528,240 mt), Russia (1,044,153 mt), Iceland (933,019 mt), UK (823,669 mt), and Denmark (641,927 mt); the region includes the historically important fishing grounds of the North Sea, the Baltic Sea, and the Atlantic waters between Greenland, Iceland, and the British Isles; the principal catches include Atlantic cod, haddock, saithe (pollock), Blue Whiting, herring, and mackerel; not all fish caught are for human consumption, half of fish catches in the North Sea are processed as fish oil or fish meal, which are used in animal fodder

    Eastern Central Atlantic region (Region 34) is the second most important Atlantic fishery, and sixth largest in the world producing more than 6.8% of the global catch or 5,397,726 mt in 2019; the region encompasses the waters between 36º North and 6º South latitude and east of 40º West longitude off the west coast of Africa with the major producers including Morocco (1,419,872 mt), Mauritania (705,850 mt), Senegal (472,571 mt), Nigeria (451,768 mt), Ghana (303,001 mt), Cameroon (265,969 mt), and Sierra Leone (200,000 mt); the principal catches include pilchard, sardinellas, shad, and mackerel

    Northwest Atlantic region (Region 21) is the third most important Atlantic fishery and eighth in the world producing 2% of the global catch and 1,679,512 mt in 2019; it encompasses the waters north of 35º North latitude and west of 42º West longitude including the important fishing grounds over the continental shelf of North America such as the Grand Banks, the Georges Bank, and the Flemish Cap, as well as Baffin Bay with the major producers including the US (927,777 mt), Canada (615,651 mt), and Greenland (179,990 mt); the principal catches include sea scallops, prawns, lobster, herring, and menhaden

    Mediterranean and Black Sea region (Region 37) is a minor fishing region representing 1.7% or 1,385,190 mt of the world’s total capture in 2019; the region encompasses all waters east of the Strait of Gibraltar with the major producers including Turkey (686,650 mt), Italy (281,212 mt), Tunisia (129,325 mt), Spain (119,759 mt), and Russia (72,279 mt); the principal catches include European anchovy, European pilchard, Gobies, and clams

    Regional fisheries bodies: Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna, Fishery Committee for the Eastern Central Atlantic, Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea, General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean, International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, International  Council for the Exploration of the Seas, Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization, North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization, North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission, Southeast Atlantic Fisheries Organization, Western Central Atlantic Fishery Commission

  • Indian Ocean

    the Indian Ocean fisheries are the third most important in the world accounting for 15.3%, or 12,248,064 mt of the global catch in 2019; tuna, small pelagic fish, and shrimp are important species in these regions; the Food and Agriculture Organization delineated two fishing regions in the Indian Ocean:

    Eastern Indian Ocean region (Region 57) is the most important region and the fifth largest producing region in the world with 8.5%, or 6,784,778 mt, of the global catch in 2019; the region encompasses the waters north of 55º South latitude and east of 80º East longitude including the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea with the major producers including India (2,362,481 mt), Indonesia (1,940,558 mt), Burma (1,114,777 mt), Bangladesh (877,837 mt), and Sri Lanka (373,369 mt); the principal catches include shad, Skipjack tuna, mackerel, shrimp, and sardinellas

    Western Indian Ocean region (Region 51) is the world’s sixth largest producing region with more than 6.8% or 5,463,286 mt of the global catch in 2019; this region encompasses the waters north of 40º South latitude and west of 80º East longitude including the western Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea, Persian Gulf, and Red Sea as well as the waters along the east coast of Africa and Madagascar, the south coast of the Arabian Peninsula, and the west coast of India with major producers including India (2,207,125 mt), Oman (580,048 mt), Pakistan (341,730 mt), and Mozambique (274,791 mt); the principal catches include Skipjack and Yellowfin tuna, mackerel, sardines, shrimp, and cephalopods

    Regional fisheries bodies: Indian Ocean Tuna Commission, Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna, Regional Commission for Fisheries (Persian Gulf/Gulf of Oman), Southeast Asia Fisheries Development Center, Southwest Indian Ocean Fisheries Commission, South Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement

  • Pacific Ocean

    the Pacific Ocean fisheries are the most important in the world accounting for 57.8%, or 46,144,490 mt, of the global marine capture in 2019; of the six regions delineated by the Food and Agriculture Organization in the Pacific Ocean, the following are the most important:

    Northwest Pacific region (Region 61) is the world’s most important fishery producing 24% of the global catch or 19,151,516 mt in 2019; it encompasses the waters north of 20º north latitude and west of 175º west longitude with the major producers including China (29,080726 mt), Japan (3,417,871 mt), South Korea (1,403,892 mt), and Taiwan (487,739 mt); the principal catches include Alaska Pollock, Japanese anchovy, chub mackerel, and scads

    Western Central Pacific region (Region 71) is the world’s second most important fishing region producing 17.3%, or 13,798,443 mt, of the global catch in 2019; tuna is the most important species in this region; the region includes the waters between 20º North and 25º South latitude and west of 175º West longitude with the major producers including Indonesia (6,907,932 mt), Vietnam (4,571,497 mt), Philippines (2,416,879 mt), Thailand (1,509,574 mt), and Malaysia (692,553 mt); the principal catches include Skipjack and Yellowfin tuna, sardinellas, and cephalopods

    Southeast Pacific region (Region 87) is the third major Pacific fishery and third largest in the world producing 9.7%, or 7,755,134 mt, of the global catch in 2019; this region includes the nutrient rich upwelling waters off the west coast of South America between 5º North and 60º South latitude and east of 120º West longitude with the major producers including Peru (4,888,730 mt), Chile (3,298,795 mt), and Ecuador (1,186,249 mt); the principal catches include Peruvian anchovy (68.5% of the catch), Jumbo flying squid, and Chilean jack mackerel

    Pacific Northeast region (Region 67) is the fourth largest Pacific Ocean fishery and seventh largest in the world producing 4% of the global catch or 3,160,372 mt in 2019; this region encompasses the waters north of 40º North latitude and east of 175º West longitude including the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea with the major producers including the US (3,009,568 mt), Canada (276,677 mt), and Russia (6,908 mt); the principal catches include Alaska pollock, Pacific cod, and North Pacific hake

    Regional fisheries bodies: Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna, Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission, International  Council for the Exploration of the Seas, North Pacific Fisheries Commission, South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organization, Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center, Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission

  • Southern Ocean

    the Southern Ocean fishery is relatively small with a total catch of 380,771 mt in 2019; the Food and Agriculture Organization has delineated three regions in the Southern Ocean (Regions 48, 58, 88) that generally encompass the waters south of 40° to 60° South latitude; the most important producers in these regions include Norway (230,258 mt), China (50,381 mt), and South Korea (43,336 mt); Antarctic Krill made up 96% of the total catch in 2019, while other important species include Patagonian and Antarctic toothfish

    Regional fisheries bodies: Commission on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources