The mass balance of production and consumption: Supporting policy-makers for aquatic food security

A. S. Lopes, J. G. Ferreira, C. Vale, J. Johansen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


This work addresses divergences between data on consumption and availability for wild-caught and farmed fish, and normalisation of reported production data, to support integrated fisheries and aquaculture management. The methodologies developed, centred on improved parameterisation and on mass balance closure, were tested in two case studies: (i) the cod fishery in Europe, with particular emphasis on Iceland and the United Kingdom; and (ii) the overall balance of aquatic products for Portugal, the ICES member with the most diverse range of landed marine species. Data for consumption, Illegal, Unreported, or Unregulated (IUU) catch, and official availability statistics were used to identify discrepancies between consumption and official availability data. The identification of discrepancies between supply and demand, when coupled with source-discriminated data, showed a pattern where products with no unmet demand tend to display a considerable IUU percentage—above 9% in three cases (hake, sardine, and horse mackerel). By contrast with fished products with an over-met demand such as cod (144%) and sardine (124%), farmed species display low Optimal Consumption Level (OCL) satisfaction. Atlantic salmon, gilthead seabream, and European seabass register 45%, 58% and 44% respectively; this suggests a considerable unmet demand for these products and/or a high volume of undeclared fish reaching consumers, which may be due to the lack of landings control that exists for wild-caught fish. Improvements to production estimates using live-weight coefficients illustrate the impacts of seafood processing. Different processing methods can generate variations in live-weight estimates, leading to errors in officially reported data, and expose the limitations of the current statistical methods. As an example, the corrected per capita consumption for Portugal for 2014 (the latest FAO data) increases from 57 to 66 kg ind−1 y−1, which places the country as the second-greatest consumer in the world, well above both Malaysia and South Korea (each with 58 kg ind−1 y−1). The corrected data show that Portugal had the highest consumption rate in the world until the mid-1970's, when it was overtaken by Iceland for reasons discussed herein. The lack of detailed per-species consumption data, as well as the grouping of species by commodities, hinders a more detailed seafood consumption analysis, required by policy makers and stakeholders to effectively develop management measures to reduce illegal fishing or bycatch, and to correctly formulate strategic options for development of aquaculture and fisheries, necessary for ensuring food security over the next decades.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)212-223
Number of pages12
JournalEstuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2017


  • Coastal management
  • Fisheries and aquaculture planning
  • Optimal consumption level
  • Seafood mass balance
  • Supply and demand
  • World per capita consumption


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