Aquaculture, the culture of aquatic organisms, has been practiced by people for several thousand years. It is said that the Romans cultured oysters, and China has been growing fish in ponds for 3000 years. Globally, in 2001, approximately 97 million tonnes (tonne = metric ton: 2205 pounds) of aquatic animals and mollusks (excluding aquatic plants) were harvested, of which 60 million tonnes were derived from capture fisheries and 37 million tonnes were derived from aquaculture. Global aquaculture production consisted of 15.2 million tonnes from marine areas and 22.6 million tonnes from inland areas. In 2002, production of finfish represented more than 50% of all aquaculture production, mollusks were 23.4%, aquatic plants were 22.2%, crustaceans were 3.6%, and other species represented 0.3% (Fig. 1A). As a percentage of value, there are shifts in the percent compared by each category. Finfish represent 55.9% of the value of all aquaculture products, mollusks represent 16.8%, crustaceans represent 16.6%, aquatic plants represent 9.9%, and other aquaculture items represent 0.8% of the total value (Fig. 1B).

Two hundred and ten different species of animals and plants are currently cultured around the world. China produces 71% of the total volume (Fig. 2A) and almost 50% of the total value (Fig. 2B) of global aquaculture production. Carp production constitutes 68% of the total global finfish aquaculture production; they are grown and consumed mainly in China and India (Fig. 3). Although there are many species of fish, shellfish, and crustaceans cultured in the world, this article will focus on the most commonly cultured fish species, their scientific names, the amount produced, the country or region that is the lead producer, and the types of culture systems most commonly used in production. This listing is by no means complete. There are fish species that may not be listed, although they may have a large local or regional production, but it is hoped that this list will serve as a brief introduction to the fish that constitute the majority of global finfish production.

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