|Cutting tuna at Tokyo's Tsukiji fish market.|
An international group of researchers said at the end of last year that 29 per cent of species have suffered a collapse in population because of overfishing.
Such troubles are unlikely to sap growing global demand for fish and other aquaculture products. The industry is expanding at 10% annually, or three times the worldwide growth in economic output. Demand is especially brisk in Asia, where fish are a symbol of prosperity. The industry in China, the world's biggest market, is growing at an annual clip of 12%.
Underscoring the industry's potential, Singapore's government-owned investment company Temasek said in June it was buying a 10% stake of publicly traded Minh Phu Seafood Corp. of Vietnam. With a market capitalization of $237 million, Minh Phu is one of the largest shrimp producers in the region ( Click here for more on Vietnam ).
Increased protection of natural fisheries is leading to better returns for at least some fish farmers, who now account for half the world's aquatic harvest. The Chinese are old hands at aquaculture. The classic textbook on the subject, by one Fan Li, was published in 473 B.C. China has 4.5 million people working full-time in aquaculture, according to the United Nations; that compares with some 12 million fish farmers globally.