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Aquatic Animals

Importance of aquatic animals

Aquatic animals play an essential role in achieving a more prosperous and secure world, contributing to many aspects of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular to the following:

More than 50 million of people find a source of income and livelihood in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors




Aquatic animals provide more than 3 billion people with almost 20 percent of their average per capita intake of animal protein thereby contributing to food security



Responsible and sustainable fisheries and aquaculture practices are crucial to protect life below water




A safe international trade system of aquatic animals and their products based on the OIE Standards is a motor for sustainable development



Feeding the world

The supply of aquatic animals and their products for human consumption comes from either aquaculture (the farming of aquatic animals) or wild capture fisheries. About 50% of the global supply originates from aquaculture and close to 90% of this production is in countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

The number and variety of aquatic animal species farmed globally is extraordinary. Whereas terrestrial livestock industries are based on a small number of species in two classes of vertebrates - mammals and birds - aquaculture covers hundreds of distantly related species from several phyla including arthropods (crustaceans), chordates (fish, amphibians, reptiles), molluscs (bivalves and gastropods), and echinoderms (sea cucumbers, sea urchins).

To satisfy the growing global demand for aquatic food, by the year 2030, its global production will have to double, with the majority coming from aquaculture. However, diseases continue to threaten aquatic animals, constraining this growth and causing major socio-economic and environmental impacts. The international trade in aquatic animals and their products can be a significant pathway for the spread of aquatic animal diseases, in particular considering that more than one third of the world’s production is traded internationally. Discover how you can keep aquatic animals healthy in the brochure.


How is the OIE protecting aquatic animals?

The OIE provides international Standards for the improvement of aquatic animal health worldwide. Recommendations published in the OIE Aquatic Code should be used by the Competent Authorities of importing and exporting countries for early detection, reporting and control of pathogenic agents in aquatic animals and to prevent their spread via international trade in aquatic animals and their products, while avoiding unjustified sanitary barriers to trade. The Aquatic Code also includes standards for the welfare of farmed fish, and the responsible and prudent use of antimicrobial agents in aquatic animals.


Improving aquaculture productivity and sustainability

Aquatic animal health programmes are essential to ensure sustainable production systems. Veterinarians, aquatic animal health professionals, and other actors play a crucial role in ensuring the production of aquatic animals that does not jeopardise their health or welfare and of aquatic animal products that are safe for human consumption and appropriately certified to meet international trade requirements. The OIE is constantly seeking to raise awareness on the need for good governance of Veterinary Services and Aquatic Animal Health Services (both governmental and private sector).


Key facts

  • Human consumption of aquatic animals and their products continues to increase
  • Aquaculture is the fastest growing food-production sector in the world
  • Aquatic animal health contributes to preserving biodiversity, improving livelihoods and ensuring food security
  • The intensified production and high trade volumes of aquatic animals and their products can be a significant pathway for the spread of aquatic animal diseases
  • The OIE elaborates international Standards for aquatic animal health and welfare of farmed fish, as well as for safe international trade