Top 10 Most Consumed Fish in the World

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the popularity of fish worldwide, including fish, crustaceans, and mollusks, is on the trending rise. In 2017 alone, fish accounted for nearly 17% of the world’s animal protein consumption.

But why is it that fish is so popular worldwide? There are many benefits from fish, including omega-3 fats, iodine, vitamin D, iron, calcium, and zinc, to name a few.

With fish becoming more popular, we’ve decided to compile a list of the top 10 most consumed fish in the world.

Top 10 Most Consumed Fish

What is your favorite fish to eat? Maybe your tastes align with this list of most consumed fish in the world, or perhaps you have yet to try any of these delicious seafood. Either way, keep these popular fish in mind the next time you order fish at a restaurant or prepare it in your home. 

1. Peruvian Anchoveta (Engraulis Ringens)

The Peruvian Anchoveta, or Engraulis ringens, is known to be the most popular fish specie worldwide. It belongs to the anchovy family and accounts for nearly 7 million tons in harvest annually.

Where They Come From

This popular fish lives in the Pacific Ocean near Peru and Chile. The El Niño climate interaction directly impacts the Peruvian anchoveta as it affects the production of their primary food source, phytoplankton. Historically, the El Niño of 1982-1983 and 1997-1998 led to significant decreases in the fish population. Luckily, they have since survived and continue to thrive in these waters.

Why They Are Popular

Peruvian anchoveta was exclusively caught for fishmeal or feed for animal farms up until 2005. Since then, their popularity in human consumption has exploded. Today you will find Peruvian anchoveta sold fresh, canned, or salted-matured as Peruvian canned sardines. 

Although they have increased in popularity in human consumption, only 1% of today’s anchovy catches are for this purpose. 99% of anchovies remain to be fishmeal and fish oil products.

Fun Fact

Part of the increase in popularity of the Peruvian anchoveta is thanks to Peru’s ex-president, Alan Garcia. From 1985-1990 during his term, Alan Garcia created a large-scale promotion of the first, making it widely known to all classes. 

2. Alaska Pollock (Theragra Chalcogramma)

The Alaska pollock, also known as the walleye pollock or Gadus chalcogrammus, is the second most-consumed fish worldwide. It belongs to the cod family and accounts for 3.4 million tons in harvest annually.

Where They Come From

Native to the North Pacific Ocean, the Alaska pollock’s primary source comes directly from the Bering Sea.

Why They Are Popular

Alaska pollock is a popular white fish because they have a more mild taste and lower oil content than others within the genus. The fish is sold in fillets, raw for surimi, or as pollock roe.

Fun Fact

Humans are not the only species that rely so heavily on the Alaska pollock. Other larger fish, including halibut and salmon, feed on the Alaska pollock as well. Larger species like sea lions, fur seals, and humpback whales also have diets consisting of this popular fish.

Korea considers the Alaska pollock as their national fish, with over thirty different names for the beloved fish. Although once the most popularly caught fish in the country, today, Korea relies heavily on imports from Russia as they seek to replenish their depleted stocks.

3. Skipjack Tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis)

For the ninth year in a row, the skipjack tuna, or Katsuwonus pelamis, proves to be the third most consumed fish in the world, accounting for 3.2 million tons of harvest annually.

Where They Come From

The skipjack tuna is found in both tropical and warm-temperate water, making it common across the globe. The largest catches of skipjack tuna are known to be in Europe in France and Spain and found in South Asia in the Maldives, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia.

Why They Are Popular

The skipjack tuna sells fresh, frozen, canned, dried, salted, and smoked, contributing to its popularity worldwide. Of the tuna genus, the skipjack population is most likely to withstand the current consumption rates globally. 

Fun Fact

Pregnant women should refrain from eating large quantities of skipjack tuna because it is known to carry a moderate mercury contamination level. In addition to mercury contamination found in skipjack, nearly 90% contain tributyltin contamination due to paint from ship hulls throughout the ocean.

4. Atlantic Herring (Clupea Harengus)

Of the herring family, the Atlantic herring is one of the most popular fish and one of the world’s most abundant species. 

Where They Come From

Atlantic herrings are found on either side of the Atlantic Ocean and are hugely impactful to the New England and Canadian Atlantic provinces’ economies.

Why They Are Popular

The Atlantic herring is known for being forage fish, or prey, to larger fish in the ocean, including tuna and salmon. The fish proves to be highly versatile, and humans consume them raw, salted, fermented, pickled, dried, or smoked. 

Fun Fact

The Atlantic herring has been nicknamed the “silver of the sea” because of its coloring and significance throughout history.

5. Blue Whiting (Micromesistius Poutassou)

Another member of the cod family, the blue whiting, or Micromesistius poutassou, is known as the fifth most consumed fish worldwide.

Where They Come From

The blue whiting is most abundantly found in the northeast Atlantic Ocean near Morocco towards Iceland and Norway. They can be in more northern regions of the Mediterranean.

Why They Are Popular

Although you do not typically see blue whiting marketed as a fresh fish, it is widely popular for being turned into fishmeal and fish oil products. In Russia and southern Europe, you will sometimes see blue whiting sold for human consumption.

Fun Fact

Since 2006 the fishing of the blue whiting has decreased significantly due to a reduction in overall stock, although the real reason is not known.

6. Chub Mackerel (Scomber Japonicus)

The chub mackerel, or Scomber japonicus, has other common names, including the Pacific mackerel or the Pacific chub mackerel, and belongs to the tuna and mackerel family.

Where They Come From

Chub mackerel typically surround North America on both coasts, but the most significant fisheries are out of California and Mexico.

Why They Are Popular

Nutritionists say that the chub mackerel makes a very healthy meal with a solid combination of protein, omega-3, and unsaturated fatty acids. The fish is an excellent protein source, especially for growing children and pregnant women.

Fun Fact

As larvae, chub mackerel can consume nearly 90% of their body weight in a day.

7. Chilean Jack Mackerel (Trachurus Murphyi)

The Chilean jack mackerel, or Trachurus murphyi, has other common names, including the Inca scad or the Peruvian jack mackerel, and belongs to the fish’s jack mackerel species.

Where They Come From

The Chilean jack mackerel is in the open ocean, usually around the south Pacific near Chile and Peru or near New Zealand and southern Australia. 

Why They Are Popular

Primarily caught for human consumption, the Chilean jack mackerel is either marketed fresh or canned. They sometimes make fishmeal for swine or salmon. 

Fun Fact

It takes over 11 pounds of Chilean jack mackerel to raise just over two pounds of farmed salmon.

8. Japanese Anchovy (Engraulis Japonicus)

The Japanese anchovy, or Engraulis japonicus, belongs to the Engraulidae family and is very similar to the European anchovy.

Where They Come From

Found primarily in the Pacific Ocean, the Japanese anchovy is predominant in the Sea of Japan, Yellow Sea, and the East China Sea.

Why They Are Popular

Throughout Asia, it is common to find niboshi, or iriko, which is dried infant sardines. These fish are famous for seasoning in soups and other foods.

Fun Fact

The fisherman prefers to catch anchovy at night under a full moon when the moon’s reflection off their silvery bodies makes them easy to spot out in the ocean.

9. Largehead Hairtail (Trichiurus Lepturus)

The Largehead hairtail, or Trichiurus lepturus, is also known as the beltfish and belongs to the cutlassfish family. 

Where They Come From

The largehead hairtail is across the globe and found primarily in tropical and temperate waters. In 2009, China and Taiwan caught the most largehead hairtail.

Why They Are Popular

The largehead hairtail is firm yet tender when cooked with low oiliness, making it a popular dish to be served raw, fried, or grilled.

Fun Fact

While wildly popular for human consumption, the largehead hairtail is significant in commercial fishing as fish food.

10. Yellowfin Tuna (Thunnus albacares)

The yellowfin tuna, or Thunnus albacares, also known by its Hawaiian name “ahi,” is from the tuna family and is very closely related to the bigeye tuna.

Where They Come From

Yellowfin tuna prefer deep offshore waters, primarily in Hawaii or other island groups around the Western Pacific, Caribbean, and the Maldives.

Why They Are Popular

The yellowfin tuna comes in two grades, either sashimi, raw, or other, and continues gaining popularity due to the depleted resources of the southern bluefin tuna.

Fun Fact

As of 2010, the yellowfin tuna is a part of the Greenpeace International seafood red list marking it at a very high risk of being sourced from unsustainable fisheries.

Wrap-Up

There are plenty of fish in the sea -literally. Next time you make your selection in the grocery store or out to dinner, now you have some fun facts about the 10 most consumed fish in the world.

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