Fish are the primary source of protein for a large portion of the world's population. The worldwide yearly harvest of all sea fish (including aquaculture) is between 85 and 130 million metric tons. There are approximately 20,000 species of fish, of which 9,000 are regularly caught. Only 22 fish species are harvested in large amounts. Ground-fish, which are fish that live near or on the ocean floor, account for about 10% of the world's fishery harvest, and include cod, haddock, pollock, flounder, halibut and sole. Large pelagic fish such as tuna, swordfish, marlin, and mahi-mahi, account for about 5% of world harvest. The fish eaten most often in the United States is canned tuna.
Rising global demand for fish has increased the pressure to harvest more fish to the point where all 17 of the world's major fishing areas have either reached or exceeded their limits. Atlantic stocks of cod, haddock and blue-fin tuna are all seriously depleted, while in the Pacific, anchovies, salmon and halibut are all over-fished. Aquaculture, or fish farming, reduces pressure on wild stocks and now accounts for nearly 20% of world harvest.
Supply - The U.S. grand total of fishery products rose +0.6% to a record high of 20.529 billion pounds in 2005 (latest data available). The U.S. total domestic catch in 2005 fell by -0.6% to 9.624 billion pounds, and that comprised 47% of total U.S. supply. Of the U.S. total domestic catch in 2005, 72% of the catch was finfish for human consumption, 17% of the catch was a variety of fish for industrial use, and 11% was shellfish for human consumption. The principal species of U.S. fishery landings in 2005 were Pollock (with 3.425 billion pounds landed), Menhaden (1.244 billion pounds), Pacific Salmon (899 million pounds), Flounder (419 million pounds), and Sea Herring (303 million pounds).
About 30% the fish harvested in the world are processed directly into fishmeal and fish oil. Fishmeal is used primarily in animal feed. Fish oil is used in both animal feed and human food products. World fishmeal production in the 2005-06 marketing year fell by -6.4% to 5.660 million metric tons. World production of fish oil in 2005-06 fell -5.6% to 978.600 metric tons. Peru and Chile are the world's largest producers of fishmeal and fish oil.
Trade - U.S. imports of fishery products in 2005 rose 1.6% yr/yr to a record high of 10.905 billion pounds, comprising 53% of total U.S. supply.