© GIZ/Ladislao di Domenica

The growing demand for food from oceans and inland waters can only be met with aquaculture. Today, aquaculture produces almost every second fish, crustacean or shellfish that is consumed. It contributes significantly to the food security of 3.3 billion people, who derive about 20% of their protein needs with fish (products) from aquaculture.

By 2030, the demand for food from marine and inland waters is projected to reach 200 million tonnes per year. In low-income countries with food deficits, fish is often the most important animal food source. While landed volumes from wild catches have stagnated for more than two decades, production from aquaculture has tripled over the past 20 years to 114.5 million tonnes in 2018. Aquaculture is the world's fastest growing industry in the food production sector. 

Almost 90% of global production of fish, shellfish and crustaceans comes from Asia (of which 2/3 comes from China, representing 58% of global production); followed by the Americas (4.6%), Europe (3.8%), Africa (2.7%) and Oceania (0.3%). Although Africa's share of global aquaculture production is small, it already contributes 18% of total fish production and is growing rapidly.

Promoting sustainable aquaculture is important for food security and combating "hidden hunger". Especially for women of childbearing age and young children, an adequate supply of high-quality protein, micronutrients and vitamins is crucial to prevent underdevelopment. The aquaculture sector employs more than 20 million people (19% women) worldwide, directly or indirectly. Small family farms and medium-sized enterprises make up the majority of producers. Selected products such as shrimps from coastal aquaculture are produced mainly for the international market and are among the most important sources of foreign exchange in Asian and Latin American developing countries.

However, the rapid growth of aquaculture production often does not meet modern sustainability standards. The resulting negative ecological and socio-economic impacts are increasingly coming to public attention. These include marine and inland water pollution, eutrophication, the loss of coastal ecosystems (especially the clearing of mangroves) and the spread of invasive species and diseases. The use of fishmeal and -oil from unsustainable fisheries is also a serious issue. All these problems are often caused by a lack of political and legal frameworks, which also lead to conflicts of use and interest between stakeholders, further increasing the pressure on ecosystems and resources used for aquaculture.

The effects of climate change will probably change the production conditions for aquaculture in many regions. While this opens up opportunities in some cases, there are significant risks, including production and infrastructure failures due to extreme weather events, water shortages and negatively changing production conditions in the long term.

Against this background, GIZ supports partner countries, international organisations, business and civil society in promoting sustainable aquaculture. We thus provide an effective contribution to food security, employment and income generation, and sustainable and equitable resource use. Our work is guided by international agreements such as the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Ecosystem Approach to Aquaculture of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO).

GIZ's work in the field of aquaculture focuses on the following aspects:

  • Support for the preparation and implementation of aquaculture development plans and legal frameworks that promote responsible use of resources, adoption of integrated ecosystem approaches and inclusive and equitable resource access;
  • Advice on development and implementation of curricula and training programs to meet the growing needs of our partner countries for academic and technical professionals;
  • Promote gender equality and human rights throughout the aquaculture value chain;
  • Developing aquaculture value chains with environmentally sound technical innovations to secure and increase production of small and medium-sized enterprises:
  • Improving market access for small and medium-sized enterprises (quality and storability, cold chain, processing, transport, marketing) and disseminating market-oriented instruments, such as quality, environmental and social standards and certification;
  • Strengthening technical and managerial capacities with a focus on small and medium enterprises that supply local, but also regional / international markets;
  • Promoting resilience and adaptation to the impacts of climate change, including synergies with agriculture (e.g. integrated fish aquaculture in rice fields), efficient water use (aquaponics) and coastal protection (extensive aquaculture use with rehabilitation of mangrove belts), but also credit and climate risk insurance capacity.