Globally, fish is the most traded commodity and in Africa, fisheries and aquaculture play a major role in food and nutrition security. Fish contributes essential proteins, minerals and micronutrients to over 400 million people in Africa (World Fish, 2009). Further, continent wide, over 2.5 million people are involved in fishing and three times this number in trading and processing. Furthermore, total fisheries and aquaculture value added represent 1.26 percent of total GDP for African countries and 6.02 percent of total agricultural GDP (FAO, 2014). This means the livelihood of many African families is influenced or depends on the fisheries sector.
The fish commodity trade was valued at US$ 130 in 2013 globally. However, Africa’s contribution to global fish trade has been limited, accounting only for 4.9 percent of global fish trade despite important fisheries resources in its waters.
While there are increasing efforts to increase the production and access of staple cereals in the region, there is limited attention given to the improvement of the availability and access to fish and fish products to the more than 400 million people on the continent who depend on fish as a vital source of nutrition and livelihood.
Intra-African fish trade is constrained by inadequate market and trade infrastructure and deficient policies and institutional frameworks. These lead to high transportation costs, complex trade rules and inadequate market information, all of which prevent Africa from optimising the social and economic benefits available from fish trade.
Strengthening the management of the fisheries, promoting more effective policies and expanding fish trade opportunities for fish dependent communities, including small scale fishers, will lead to a sustainable fish trade that improves incomes, stimulate economic growth and provide a pathway out of poverty for many fish dependent communities across Africa.