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Fisheries Sector Context and Rationale

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The fisheries sector for most African Union Member States (AU-MS) consists of capture fisheries (marine and/or inland water) and aquaculture. The continent has vast fish resources that generate various benefits including nutritional and food security, livelihoods, employment, exports and foreign currency as well as conservation and biodiversity value that are of global significance. Fisheries represent the leading agriculture export commodity for Africa (and for other developing countries globally), contributing some 19 percent of total agricultural volumes but notably 5 percent of total value.

Total fishery production in Africa in 2010 was estimated at 9.4 million tons. This comprised of 5.7 million tons from marine capture fisheries, 2.5 million tons from inland water fisheries and about 1.2 million tons from aquaculture. The contribution of the sector to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is generally small, on the average 2 percent but relatively important in some countries such as Mauritania and Namibia, where the estimated fisheries sector contribution is 10 percent to GDP in each of the two countries. This valuable natural asset is one of the main components of economic growth for some regions on the continent (e.g. West Africa, Central Africa). The sector provides a direct source of livelihoods to over 10 million Africans and more than 50 million more are engaged in supplementary activities of the sector in rural areas. Most of the people directly involved in fishery are in the small-scale or artisanal sub-sector both in the marine and inland water capture fisheries as well as aquaculture.

The project has been developed to help African countries realize the full potential of the fisheries sector by addressing management and development issues and constraints that afflict fisheries and aquaculture on the continent.