Fisheries and aquaculture

Sustainable fisheries and aquaculture policies for the future

Fisheries and aquaculture provide food for hundreds of millions of people around the world every day, and employ over 10% of the world’s population, many of them women. Led by the rapid development of aquaculture, especially in Asia, global seafood consumption has grown at twice the rate of the population since the early 1960s.

However, marine and aquatic ecosystems are under stress – from climate change, overfishing and unsustainable fishing and aquaculture practices in some areas, as well as pollution from various other human activities, which lead to ocean acidification and declining biodiversity.
What is more, illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing continues in many parts of the world, adding excessive pressure on fish stocks, harming law-abiding fishers through unfair competition and thereby reducing their profitability, in addition to limiting employment opportunities throughout the value chain.

In countries participating in the OECD Review of Fisheries 2020, about a quarter of global fish stocks with known status are in a biologically unsustainable situation, and of the two thirds that are healthy, only half are known to be in a situation that allows producing maximum sustainable catch volume or value.

Global fisheries and aquaculture could be both more productive and more sustainable if they were optimally managed.

Helping governments sustainably manage fisheries, aquaculture, and protect the environment

Governments are increasingly aware of the shortcomings of fisheries and aquaculture management frameworks, and that smarter regulations and new technologies are needed if sustainability and productivity are to be improved. However, achieving reform in fisheries and aquaculture policy can be difficult. A broad range of interests are typically at stake and it is often difficult and expensive to collect the data on marine resources and ecosystems needed for evidence-based policy-making.

The OECD helps governments establish good policies to achieve environmentally sound fisheries and sustainable aquaculture to support resilient communities, provide quality food and secure livelihoods. The work of the Fisheries Committee contributes to a more robust evidence base for policy making, and promotes a dialogue among and between authorities in charge of fisheries and aquaculture policies in OECD member countries and beyond.

Based on the latest available information reported by OECD countries and partner economies, the OECD Review of Fisheries 2020 suggests priorities for action at the national level and for the international community. It offers a practical policy perspective on how to accelerate progress on the fisheries targets of Sustainable Development Goal 14, which were set with a 2020 deadline and which remain unattained at a global level.

The Review covers about half of global fisheries, tracking and analysing developments in the main areas of government interventions for fisheries of OECD countries and important non-member fishing economies. In particular, it helps support a dialogue on government support to the fisheries sector using the OECD Fisheries Support Estimate (FSE) database, which measures fisheries support policies in a consistent and transparent way across all OECD member countries and other important fishing economies. The FSE and associated modelling work allow investigation of the impacts of fisheries support policies on resources and ecosystems as well as on jobs, incomes and value creation with a view to adjust policies to better deliver the goals they were designed to meet.

The Review also presents and analyses information on the health of fish stocks, and how countries and economies manage fish resources. It examines the policies applied in the fight against IUU fishing and evaluates the extent to which internationally-recognised best practices have been adopted. It also investigates successful pathways to reform through improved governance, stakeholder consultation, and mobilization of scientific evidence and analysis.

Latest update

Eliminating government support to illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing

This report assesses how to stop IUU fishing benefitting from government support. Based on a survey of OECD countries and partner economies participating in the work of the OECD Fisheries Committee, it recommends actions that can be undertaken by countries...

Read more

About the fisheries support estimates

Governments provide support to their fisheries sectors through a wide range of policies, including fisheries stock management, monitoring, control and surveillance, infrastructure, research, fuel tax exemptions and direct contributions to fishers’ incomes. The objectives vary but tend to centre around goals such as maintaining fishery employment, or improving fishers’ welfare and the sustainability of the sector and the resources it relies on.

The OECD has developed a Fisheries Support Estimate (FSE) database to measure and describe fisheries support policies in a consistent and transparent way across all OECD member countries and key non-member economies with significant marine fisheries. The FSE, and associated modelling work, provide a basis for users to investigate the impacts of support on resources and ecosystems as well as on jobs, incomes and value creation with a view to adjust policies to better deliver the goals they were designed to meet.

Fisheries support is defined in the FSE as the annual monetary value of gross transfers to fishers from taxpayers, arising from policies targeted to the fisheries sector, whether their objectives are social, economic or environmental. Most reported policies are directed towards general support of the sector, primarily management services and infrastructure investments. This support is included in the General Services Support Estimate (GSSE) part of the FSE. Support received directly by fishers mainly takes the form of income support and disaster assistance and is classified in the database as transfers to individual fishers (TIF). Fishers also benefit from some forms of support that are not exclusive to the fishing sector, such as tax policiesexemptions that reduce the cost of fuel, which are widely available in an economy. Such support policies are not included in the FSE, even though they benefit the sector. The OECD has estimated the value of these in a separate report.

The FSE data are updated each year, and individual policy measures for each country can be accessed on OECD.Stat. They are classified and tagged according to the type of measures, who the beneficiaries are, and the conditions attached to eligibility – for example in terms of sustainable fishing practices.

For more detail on the definitions and classification system, you can reference the FSE Manual.

Learn more about the OECD's work on government support.

Fisheries and aquaculture data

The OECD collects annual data on production, trade, value and more for fisheries and aquaculture OECD member economies and beyond.  Access the latest data via OECD.Stat. The Fisheries Support Estimate (FSE) is our unique database of support to fisheries covering 35 countries, including supporting metadata on how such support is designed and delivered. Access the full data and metadata by country below.


Trends and prospects in fisheries and aquaculture are assessed in the context of national, regional and global food commodity markets as part of the Agricultural Outlook, published collaboratively by the OECD and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

OECD Fish Dictionary app

The OECD’s Multilingual Dictionary of Fish and Fish Products is a world standard guide to the names of fish and fish products traded internationally.

This dictionary comprises over 1000 items, with descriptions in English and French and the equivalents for the main heading in 18 other languages: Danish, Dutch, Finnish, German, Greek, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Serbian, Croatian, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish. Scientific names are also provided.

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Fisheries and aquaculture publications

Access OECD publications on Fisheries on the OECD iLibrary. 

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