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. Information 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 418 mt in 2017, 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, the five littoral states including Canada, Denmark (Greenland), Norway, Russia, and the US 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

  • Atlantic Ocean

    the Atlantic Ocean fisheries are the second most important in the world accounting for 28%, or 22,434,652 mt, of the global catch in 2017; 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 third most important in the world producing more than 11% of the global catch or 9,309,821 mt in 2017; the region encompasses the waters north of 36º North latitude and east of 40º West longitude with the major producers including Norway (2,208,175 mt), Iceland (1,163,166 mt), Russia (1,105,548 mt), UK (717,545 mt), and Denmark (901,939 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 seventh largest in the world producing more than 6% of the global catch or 5,085,264 mt in 2017; 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 (1,336,787 mt), Mauritania (779,580 mt), Nigeria (496,206 mt), Senegal (464,199 mt), Ghana (291,904 mt), Cameroon (205,190 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 ninth in the world producing a little more than 2% of the global catch and 1,755,861 mt in 2017; 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 (889,668 mt), Canada (624,747 mt), and Greenland (169,830 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 1.6% or 1,348,299 mt of the world’s total capture in 2017; the region encompasses all waters east of the Strait of Gibraltar with the major producers including Turkey (322,175 mt), Italy (185,067 mt), Tunisia (109,636 mt), Russia (90,883 mt), and Spain (86,342 mt); the principal catches include European anchovy, European pilchard, Gobies, and clams

  • Indian Ocean

    the Indian Ocean fisheries are the third most important in the world accounting for 15%, or 12,311,688 mt of the global catch in 2017; 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 more than 8%, or 6,966,875 mt, of the global catch in 2017; 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 Indonesia (1,940,190 mt), India (1,431,700 mt), Burma (1,263,080 mt), Bangladesh (637,476 mt), and Sri Lanka (422,842 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% or 5,344,813 mt of the global catch in 2017; 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 (2,402,878 mt), Pakistan (382,768 mt), Oman (347,539 mt), and Mozambique (232,299 mt); the principal catches include Skipjack and Yellowfin tuna, mackerel, sardines, shrimp, and cephalopods

  • Pacific Ocean

    the Pacific Ocean fisheries are the most important in the world accounting for 56.6%, or 45,580,140 mt, of the global marine capture in 2017; 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 25% of the global catch or 20,234,899 mt in 2017; it encompasses the waters north of 20º north latitude and west of 175º west longitude with the major producers including China (12,589,877 mt), Japan (2,917,663 mt), South Korea (948,670 mt), and Taiwan (341,260 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 15%, or 12,530,652 mt, of the global catch in 2017; 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 (4,281,018 mt), Vietnam (3,118,696 mt), Philippines (1,724,272 mt), Thailand (912,863 mt), and Malaysia (741,561 mt); the principal catches include Skipjack and Yellowfin tuna, sardinellas, and cephalopods

    Southeast Pacific region (Region 87) is the third major Pacific fishery and fourth largest in the world producing 9%, or 7,223,740 mt, of the global catch in 2017; 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 (4,128,760 mt), Chile (1,918,611 mt), and Ecuador (554,961 mt); the principal catches include Peruvian anchovy (50% of the catch), Jumbo flying squid, and Chilean jack mackerel

    Pacific Northeast region (Region 67) is the fourth largest Pacific Ocean fishery and eighth largest in the world producing 4% of the global catch or 3,379,432 mt in 2017; 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 (3,186,515 mt), Canada (180,929 mt), and Russia (11,988 mt); the principal catches include Alaska pollock, Pacific cod, and North Pacific hake

  • Southern Ocean

    the Southern Ocean fishery is relatively small with a total catch of 257,278 mt in 2017; 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 (156,884 mt), China (38,112 mt), and South Korea (34,506 mt); Antarctic Krill made up 92% of the total catch in 2017, while other important species include Patagonian and Antarctic toothfish