It is estimated that in 2020, 58.5 million people were employed in full-time or part-time employment, as well as in one-time jobs or jobs with uncertain responsibilities in the fishing and aquaculture sector; approximately 21% of them were women. Of these, 35% were engaged in aquaculture, and 65% in industrial fishing.

Employment in the aquaculture sector has stabilized in recent years, while the number of fishermen in the world has declined, primarily influenced by trends in Asia. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected employment across all value chains in fisheries and aquaculture. Restrictions on movement, activities not deemed essential, and trade have led to disruptions and changes in markets and distribution systems, which have created problems in the fisheries and aquaculture sector. The situation in different countries and in different periods depended on the peculiarities of the spread of the virus and its strains, which originated in Asia and got to Europe, North and South America.

In 2020, 84% of fishermen and fish farmers lived in Asia, followed by Africa (10%) and Latin America and the Caribbean (4%). More than 20 million people were employed in aquaculture; 93.5% of them lived in Asia, 3.1% in Africa and 3% in Latin America and the Caribbean. Data on the aquaculture sector in Europe, North America and Oceania show that less than 1% of the total number of fishermen or fish farmers in the world lived in each of these regions.

37.9 million people worked in the fishing sector; almost 80% of them were residents of Asia, 13% lived in Africa, a little more than 5% – in North and South America (mainly in Latin America and the Caribbean), a little more than 1% – in Oceania and a little less than 1% – in Europe.

The dynamics of the number of people employed in the fishing and aquaculture sectors varied by region. In Europe and North America, the share of people employed in both sectors, primarily in industrial fishing, decreased most significantly. In Africa, the number of people employed in fishing and aquaculture is steadily growing, mainly due to fishing. The number of aquaculture workers in Africa also continues to grow, but remains low compared to the number employed in fishing. In Asia, the number of workers in both aquaculture and fisheries is declining for the first time in recent decades. The reduction of China's fleet and the COVID-19 pandemic have become important factors in reducing the number of people employed in fishing. In the period from 2015 to 2020, employment in fishing decreased by 5.4%, and in aquaculture – by 4.6%. In Oceania, employment in the sector is also declining, with the number of fishermen declining between 2015 and 2020, while the number of aquaculture workers remained unchanged. In Europe, until 2015, the number of workers in the fishing and aquaculture sector as a whole was declining, and in 2015-2020, the number of people employed in fishing increased by 3% and by 5% in the aquaculture sector.

It is estimated that in 2020, women accounted for slightly more than 21% of those directly employed in the primary sectors of fishing and aquaculture (in aquaculture – 28%, and in fishing – 18% of workers).

Women make up 39.6% of the supply value and 49.8% of those employed in the processing segment (including both employees and those producing products for their own needs).

Processing of food products from aquatic biological resources is the most important type of post–field activity in the fishing and aquaculture sector, which has a direct impact on the economic characteristics of fishing and aquaculture at the local and global levels. There are various processing methods aimed at the transformation and preservation of fishery and aquaculture products – from artisanal, used by small producers, to mechanized, used by large enterprises. According to calculations carried out by the World Bank in 2012, up to 85% of workers in certain segments of the processing sector are women.

Women make up half of the workers in the small-scale fishing sector employed in the post-field processing segment. The high proportion of women among those engaged in fish processing can be considered as a consequence of the socially and geographically determined gender division of labor in the fishing industry, in which men are more likely to work at sea and women on land.