Fish is a delicacy rich with nutrients. With technology taking shape, aquaculture has become the new frontier for business for most small-scale and large-scale traders. Africa, like the rest of the world, is now investing heavily in this venture that is attracting decent returns and contributing to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The most famous fish kinds that exist in the water masses include; Nile Perch, Tilapia and Cat Fish. Below is a list of Africa’s top fish producing countries according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)
The North African country, despite being largely desert, had a total output of 916,988 tonnes of fish captured in the high seas in 2003, before increasing its catch to 946,881 tonnes in 2011 and 1.2 million tonnes in 2012. The Maghreb country’s fisheries sector accounts for three per cent of Morocco’s GDP.
The government estimates the number of direct and indirect jobs at 400,000 (including 104,000 fishermen). The fishing industry in Morocco is a leading foreign exchange earner, accounting for 56 per cent of agricultural revenue and 16 per cent of total exports.
Nigeria imports more than two-thirds of the fish demanded by consumers. The country has a 853-kilometre coastline and a 200 nautical miles Exclusive Economic Zonem, in which it has exclusive rights to the fish.
A study by the National Special Programme for Food Security 2004 identified about 2,658 fish farms and 937 dams and reservoirs in Nigeria. Despite this potential, the current annual demand for fish is 1.5 million tonnes, whereas local production stands at about 0.4 million tonnes estimated at Sh241 billion.
3. South Africa
With an annual capture of 817,608 tonnes of fish, South Africa is among Africa’s biggest marine producers. Export data from the Department of Fisheries indicates that the South African industry is dominated by the Western Cape Province, which accounts for more than 80 per cent of all South African aquaculture produce, followed by the Eastern Cape at a distant 12.75 per cent.
With an annual puck of 405,070 tonnes of fish, Senegal depends on fish as a major source of protein for its population. Fishing plays a dominant role in the government’s policy towards generating employment. It currently generates about 100,000 direct jobs (fishermen) for nationals, of which more than 90 per cent are in small-scale fishing.
It is estimated that the European market absorbs up to 80 per cent of Africa’s exports of sea products (66 per cent of Senegal’s exports of piscatorial products). Senegalese piscatorial exports also benefited from a customs duties exemption regime in the European market under the Lomé Agreement.
Uganda ranks sixth in the category of the world’s top inland water capture. All these despite major declines in fish production due to indiscriminate fishing practices witnessed. In the shared water space that is Lake Victoria, Uganda occupies around 29 per cent of the fresh water mass which fishermen in the country have used for personal and commercial purposes. Uganda captured 437,415 tonnes of fish in 2011 and declined slightly to 407,638 tonnes in 2012.
The East African country is also a big player in fish production due to its population size and occupation of the biggest chunk of Lake Victoria. Fishing is fast becoming a vital source of livelihood, nutrition and economic opportunities in the region.
Tanzania captured 290,963 tonnes of fish in 2011 and 314,945 tonnes in 2012. The country exported about 15,000 tonnes last year, down from 51,426 tonnes and 57,795 tonnes in 2008 and 2007 respectively. Latest figures show that in 2011, Tanzania earned $137 million (Sh137 billion) from fish exports.
In 2009, tourism was surpassed by industrial fishing as the highest foreign exchange earner. Tuna fishing is the highest earner. Licensing fees paid by foreign companies that trawl in Seychelles territorial water are also growing. Purse seiner fishing has had a stable catch for the past 10 years.
This includes 300,000 tonnes of tuna in the south-west Indian Ocean with about 15 per cent in the Seychelles’ Export Enterprise Zone. About 85 per cent of this tuna is trans-shipped in Port Victoria.
8. Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone’s shoreline is approximately 560 km long and includes the estuaries of three large river networks (Scarcies, Sierra Leone and Sherbro) and four coastal islands. The fishing industry consists of two sectors, the industrial and the artisanal, the latter comprising marine artisanal, inland artisanal and aquaculture.
Fish is an important part of the diet, supplying about 80 per cent of animal protein. Annual production is currently estimated at 20,000 tonnes, of which about 5,000 tonnes comes from lakes and 15,000 tonnes from riverine and flood plains.
Aquaculture, in the form of fish farming, was introduced into Cameroon in 1948. Since then, the country has been party to several bilateral projects and a variety of different programmes in this sector to encourage the adoption of this new form of fish culture.
Surveys suggest that annual potential aquaculture output could be between 2,300 and 20,000 tonnes. There are 22 breeding centres, which are used for extension work. Today, there are about 15,000 ponds producing 330 tonnes of fish, worth $4.71 million (Sh470 million) in the 2003.
10. Congo Basin
Congolese aquaculture is based essentially on household subsistence fish farming, with a predominance of tilapia culture, despite the potential that exists for rearing other farmed species. In recent years, domestic annual aquaculture output has varied from 2,000 to 3,000 tonnes, worth between $5 million (Sh500million) and $7.5 million (Sh750 million).