Structure and evolution of the global seafood trade network

Authors:Gephart, Jessica, Department of Environmental SciencesUniversity of Virginia Pace, Michael, Department of Environmental SciencesUniversity of Virginia

The food production system is increasingly global and seafood is among the most highly traded commodities. Global trade can improve food security by providing access to a greater variety of foods, increasing wealth, buffering against local supply shocks, and benefit the environment by increasing overall use efficiency for some resources. However, global trade can also expose countries to external supply shocks and degrade the environment by increasing resource demand and loosening feedbacks between consumers and the impacts of food production. As a result, changes in global food trade can have important implications for both food security and the environmental impacts of production. Measurements of globalization and the environmental impacts of food production require data on both total trade and the origin and destination of traded goods (the network structure). While the global trade network of agricultural and livestock products has previously been studied, seafood products have been excluded. This study describes the structure and evolution of the global seafood trade network, including metrics quantifying the globalization of seafood, shifts in bilateral trade flows, changes in centrality and comparisons of seafood to agricultural and industrial trade networks. From 1994 to 2012 the number of countries trading in the network remained relatively constant, while the number of trade partnerships increased by over 65%. Over this same period, the total quantity of seafood traded increased by 58% and the value increased 85% in real terms. These changes signify the increasing globalization of seafood products. Additionally, the trade patterns in the network indicate: increased influence of Thailand and China, strengthened intraregional trade, and increased exports from South America and Asia. In addition to characterizing these network changes, this study identifies data needs in order to connect seafood trade with environmental impacts and food security outcomes.

food security, globalization, network analysis, seafood trade, seafood trade network
Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY)
Source Citation:

Jessica A Gephart and Michael L Pace 2015 Environ. Res. Lett. 10 125014

IOP Publishing Ltd
Published Date:
Sponsoring Agency:
University of Virginia Open Access Fund