13 January 2018

Ethiopia: Harnessing the Untapped Potential of Fisheries

As studies on Fish Resource Development show and predict the need for fish will reach forty million tons between 2025 and 2050 globally.

African Union had embarked a new policy, strategy and program in collaboration with New Economic Partnership for Africa Development that focused on Fish and Sea Animals Development in May 2014.

The strategy has laid down two focal areas that would enable the continent benefit from the sector. The first one is modernizing fishing and creating market opportunity. And the second one is enhancing investment in the aqua culture to balance the fish demand and supply of the continent and the world.

Currently, the fish resource is playing a vital role in Africa’s economy, social affairs and food science. Especially, in the African rural areas, fish resource has great role in food security and poverty eradication. However, studies in the sector show that the continent is not getting benefited from the sector as ought to be. For example, out of the African’s annual protein intake only eighteen percent is from fish. And the employment opportunity created is only twelve million annually throughout the continent that made males benefited mostly.

As well, according to world Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Africa earned from the sector less than 24 billion US Dollars in 2013 which is only 1.3 percent of the continents total GDP. This indicates that the continent is performing low in the sector.

Nevertheless, the economic and social inputs of the sector are not something negligible. Socially, the employment opportunity that can be created by the sector is very high and invaluable in poverty reduction. Additionally, fish meat is nutritious and healthy enough if included as daily diet.
The United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) has listed different ways of enhancing fish resources. Developing clear policy on fish resource development is the major one.

Organizing and enabling those who invest in the sector and financing the it is the other way. And government bodies have to control, follow up, evaluate and research the sector’s investment performances concurrently.

Likewise, the sector’s researcher Reg Weston, also advised on his study ‘Construction and Potential Application of a Global Cost of Fishing Data Bases’ that countries of the world should make and use fish resource as the major motor of their economic activities. He described that it is a key solution for youth unemployment, food security and source of tourism attraction.

Like the other African countries, Ethiopia is also less performer of the sector though she is rich in in-land water fishes those are valuable for food, economic and social. The nation has about seven thousand four hundred square kilometers lakes and dams, 250 thousand little dams and ponds seven thousands kilometer long local rivers. It is estimated that the nation can produce over ninety nine thousand tons of fish from these lakes, dams and rivers. In general, the country can produce per annum on average 80 percent from major lakes, 4 percent from rivers and 16 percent from artificial dams and other small rivers.

The states known by fish from lakes and dams are Amhara, Oromia and Nations, Nationalities and Peoples of South Ethiopia while Benishangul Gumuz and Gambella are known by fish from rivers and ponds. Ethiopia has a conducive environment and climate for aqua culture especially fish farming. Therefore, if all the efforts are added, the nation can develop and produce thousands of tons of exportable fish. And the current government policy and strategy on aqua culture and irrigation development program that create different water bodies would enable the nation to produce many more tons of fish.

According to a study in 2014, Ethiopia is able to produce 50 thousand tons of fish per year which is about the half of the nation’s producible fish resource that raised only estimated fifty million USD revenue. This indicates that Ethiopia is still using most of the fish resource for food but not for the revenue enhancement.

However, in the second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP II) it is planned to increase annual performance by 10 percent that transforms the current performance to 95.6 thousand tons of fish production from which 16 percent will be fish farming. This becomes the initial of utilizing the fish resource exhaustively. And the sectors’ GTP II has the following strategies to enhance the fish resource development and production.

The first strategy is rehabilitating and sustaining the productivity of the lakes highly misused through over production. The second plan is focusing on the unused water bodies to increase their productivity and sustainability. The third approach is expanding the bases of aqua culture development. The fourth and the last is post production fish management and market relation improvement.

In conclusion, to act on these strategies infrastructure development, input supply and capacity building activities are crucial. Therefore, mobilizing the stakeholders of all levels need to be done consistently with commitment.

Translated from Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources Magazine


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