As already mentioned, the marine fisheries of Cameroon are divided into two major sectors: the artisanal fishery and the industrial fishery.
Detailed information on the structure of the artisanal fishery is given by Njock (1985a) and FAO (1986). Artisanal fishing units (fleets) operate mostly within a distance of ca 3.2 km (2.1 mi) from the shoreline. The canoes concentrate within the estuaries, creeks and coastal inshore sector of surface warm waters above the thermocline.
The artisanal fishery was sampled in 1983 using the five administrative regions (Ndian, Fako, Wouri, Sanaga and Ocean) as a basis. Figure 4 shows the main estuaries and coastal fishing settlements as well as the five administrative statistical regions surveyed. The structure of the artisanal fishery along the coast is shown in Table 2.
The 1983 survey led to determination of the following features of the artisanal fishery:
|(i)||number of main fishing villages||57|
|(ii)||number of canoes||6 011|
|(iii)||range of canoe length||4–17 m|
|(vi)||total number of fishermen||18 625|
|(vii)||contribution of indigenous fishermen||ca 10%|
|(viii)||contribution of immigrant fishermen||ca 90%|
|Coastal Region (Statistical)||Fish Landing Sites||Total Number of canoes||Total Number of fishermen||Estimate of artisa- nal catch (t)||(ranked)|
|NDIAM||Jabana||Bonga White shrimp Sardinella Croakers|
|Idabato West (I)|
|Idabato East (II)|
|Ide - Dong|
|Kombo Adibai||4 256||14 254||26 400|
|FAKO||Eyenge III||Sardinella/Bonga White shrimp Croakers|
|Wovia||432||1 172||6 600|
|Limbé (Fish Market)|
|Man O War Bay|
|Mbomo I and II|
|WOURI||Kange||Bonga Sardinella Croakers Threadfins White shrimp|
|Besokoulou||888||2 030||12 650|
|SANAGA MARITIME||Souellaba Pointe||Bonga Croakers Sardinella|
|Souellaba Yoruba Makore|
|Souellaba Bolondo||233||825||7 150|
|Yoyo I and II|
|OCEAN||Lokounje||Bonga Sardinella Croakers Snappers Lobsters|
|Kienke Port (Kribi)|
|Grand Batanga II||202||334||2 200|
|All Regions||57 landing sites||6 011||18 615||55 000|
The immigrant fishermen come mainly from Nigeria, Ghana and Benin. The predominance of artisanal fishermen from neighbouring countries could be a major constraint in the development and rational management of artisanal fishery sector.
The artisanal fishery mainly exploits pelagic fish using small meshed monofilament gillnets to catch bonga and Sardinella. The artisanal fishery also exploits some demersal resources (croakers and threadfins) using set gillnets and utilizing ngoto to catch the “white shrimp” (Palaemon hastatus).
It is noted that the artisanal fishery is mainly directed at the coastal pelagic species and the demersal resources represent only 20–30% of landings from the artisanal sector. The artisanal pelagic fisheries are more intensive north of Sanaga River, particularly in the coastal sector between Rio del Rey and the Cameroon River estuary.
There are three principal types of artisanal fishing units using different gear:
The small dugout canoes, 4–6 m long using hooks and lines to catch mainly catfish and threadfins. These small canoes carry 2 men.
the medium-sized and planked canoes 7–8 m long (Ghana type) which use set gillnets (100–300 m long, 3–9 m deep and with mesh size of 35–90 mm) to catch croakers, threadfins and other demersal fish.
also medium-sized and planked canoes, 8–10 m long (Ghana/Nigeria type) which use bonga monofilament gillnets (600–800 m long, 12–16 m deep with mesh size 40–45 mm) to catch bonga. The Sardinellagillnets are usually 600–800 m long, 10–14 m deep and have a mesh size of 35–40 mm.
The large-sized planked canoes, 10–12 m long (Ghana type) using special conical shrimp nets locally called ngoto (2.8–5.6 m long) to catch mainly white shrimps (Palaemon hastatus). The ngoto nets are common around estuaries of the northern coastal sector of Cameroon. On average, each canoe carries 15–20 ngoto nets with a mesh size of 10 mm.
The larger dugout or planked canoes (between 12 and 20 m long) which are used by Ghanaian fishermen fishing with artisanal purse seines to catch Sardinella and bonga. The purse seine net is usually 800–1 000 m long, 60–80 m deep and with a mesh size of about 38 mm. The canoes fishing with purse seines usually carry more than 14 men.
The following types of gear are used by the artisanal fishery sector:
the monofilament bonga gillnet or bonga chain (locally known as strong kanda net or strong kanda chain) mainly used to catch bonga and Sardinella;
hooks and line mainly to catch barracuda and marine catfish;
drift net (locally known as waka-waka) is used to catch pelagic fish (bonga, Sardinella, etc.);
artisanal purse seine (locally known as watsha) and recently introduced in Cameroon by Ghanaians to catch bonga and Sardinella as target species;
the beach seine (also known as drawing net or drawing chain) catches both pelagic and demersal fish in mostly coastal inshore sandy areas;
the cast net (locally known as mbunja) also used in the artisanal pelagic fishery;
the small mesh-sized conical shrimp net (locally known as ngoto),effective in harvesting white shrimp in the estuaries, creeks and shallowinshore waters, and
the multifilament bottom set gillnets (locally known as pésè or musobo net and musobo chain) used to catch mainly demersal fish (croakers, threadfins,soles, catfish, etc.).
The Cameroonian artisanal fishery uses a combination of gear to catch a mixture of pelagic and demersal fish. Considering the magnitudes of catch,the pelagic fishery dominates the artisanal sector. Sampling the artisanal catch is made more difficult by the different names employed along the coast of Cameroon and also by some species having specific names for different growth phases. For example, mature bonga and Sardinella are known as belolo, ndololo and ndolo whereas juvenile bonga and Sardinella are known as nyamtolo; hence,the origin of the destructive nyamtolo fishery which uses small meshed nets to catch juvenile bonga and sardine off the Besokoulou fishing settlement and Cape Cameroon in Wouri region. The following species are exploited by the artisanal fleets:
Ethmalosa fimbriata (bonga or bepa, épa belolo, etc.)
Sardinella maderensis (short sardine or bélolo, strong kanda, ndololo, etc.)
Ilisha africana (shad or munyanya)
Caranx/Chloroscombrus (jacks/Atlantic bumper or mutungu, motondo).
Arius (sea catfish or kwakoro)
Pseudotolithus elongatus (bobo croaker or nyendi)
Pseudotolithus senegalensis (cassava croaker or musobo)
Pseudotolithus typus (longneck croaker or musobo)
Cynoglossus spp. (Guinean and Nigerian tonguesoles)
Palaemon (estuarine white shrimp or njanga)
Juvenile Ethmalosa/Sardinella (bonga/sardine or nyamtolo) and
Panulirus regius (royal spiny lobster = langouste royale)
The Cameroonian coastline is dotted with many fishing villages of variable size depending on the number of fishing units. Most of the fishing villages or fish landing sites are located near the coastal fishing grounds. Available fishery data indicate a predominance of fishing villages in the northern coastal sector of Cameroon. This is not surprising, given the hydrographic and topographic factors which favour greater productivity of white shrimp, croakers, threadfins, catfish, bonga and sardine in this area.
The main fishing grounds presently exploited by artisanal fishermen are more or less delimited by the upper limit of the thermocline, corresponding to 25–30 m depth contour. The main fish landing sites through which the artisanal catches are marketed to the hinterland are given in Table 2. The locations of fishing grounds for the artisanal and industrial fisheries are shown in Figure 5.
|Bottom type (depth range)||Water characteristics||Main Species||Assemblage|
|Soft bottoms (15–50 m)||low salinity - high temperature - suprathermoclinal||Pseudotolithus typus Dasyatis - Arius - Pteroscion- Pentanemus - Cynoglossus browni||A = SCIAENID (estuarine component)|
|mixed layer (“Liberian waters”)||Pseudotolithus senegalensis Galeodies - Brachydeuterus Ilisha - Pomadasys jubelini - Drepane - Vomer||B = SCIAENID (offshore component)|
|Rock/reefs (15–40 m)||Lutjanus agennes - Lethrinus Balistes forcipatus - Acanthurus - Chaetodon||C = LUTJANID|
|Hard sand and broken corally deposits (15–70 m)||(subsuperficial dis- continuity layer) bottom of the thermo- cline with some exten- sion in the mixed layer||Sparus caerulostictus - Pagellus Priacanthus - Dactylopterus Epinephelus - Pseudopenaeus Raja miraletus - Balistes carolinensis||D1= “eurythermal” eurybathic element of the sparid group|
|Soft deposits (40–200 m)||below thermocline (subtropical water)||Dentex - Lepidotrigla Paracubiceps - Uranoscopus - Pentheroscion||D = SPARID GROUP typical sparid group|
|Soft deposits (15–100m)||from suprathermoclinal to infrathermoclinal with preference for intermediate levels (discontinuity layer)||Cynoglossus canariensis - Penaeus duorarum - Paragaleus - Scoliodon - Trichiurus||A-D eurythermal eurybathic Not assigned to a group|
|YEAR||VESSELS||C O M P A N I E S||TOTAL Vessels|
|1979||Trawler||-||954||-||1 584||2 080||270||-||-||-||-||4 888|
|Shrimper||-||-||-||-||-||-||2 752||-||-||-||2 752|
|1980||Trawler||304||-||480||1 582||1 981||-||-||502||-||-||2 849|
|Trawler/Shrimper||-||-||-||-||-||-||2 428||-||-||-||2 428|
|1981||Trawler||218||-||1 512||1563||790||-||-||456||89||354||4 982|
|Trawler/Shrimper||-||-||-||-||-||-||2 990||-||-||-||2 990|
|1982||Trawler||97||-||1 669||1 548||625||-||-||138||-||87||4 164|
|Shrimper||-||-||-||-||1 289||-||-||-||-||-||1 289|
|Trawler/Shrimper||-||-||-||-||-||-||2 999||-||-||-||2 999|
|1983||Trawler||-||-||1 530||1 526||561||-||-||-||-||-||3 617|
|Shrimper||-||-||-||-||1 266||-||-||-||-||-||1 266|
|Trawler/Shrimper||-||-||-||-||-||-||2 810||-||-||-||2 810|
|1984||Trawler||-||-||1 520||1 499||22||-||-||-||-||-||3 041|
|Shrimper||-||-||-||-||1 782||-||-||-||-||-||1 782|
|Trawler/Shrimper||-||-||-||-||-||-||2 325||-||-||-||2 325|
|Year||25–50 GRT||50–100 GRT||100–200 GRT||250–500 GRT||500 GRT||Total number vessel|
The demersal fish and shrimp resources have been exploited by industrial fleets since 1951 (Laure, 1969, 1972). Table 4 shows the evolution of fishing effort of the industrial fleet between 1979 and 1984. It is also shown that the finfish and shrimp trawler fleet belong to several fishing companies. The vessel characteristics of the Cameroonian industrial fishing fleet is given in Table 5. It is known that the GRT and length of vessels vary considerably. It should be noted that the mesh size of the codend of the finfish trawl is 36–41 mm (stretched mesh) whereas that of the shrimp trawl is 32–40 mm.
The traditional fishing grounds for finfish trawlers are ideally supposed to be at least 3.2 km off the estuaries in the coastal sector between Rivers Bibundi and Sanaga and possibly outside the 20 m depth frequented by the canoe fishermen. Unfortunately, available data indicate that finfish trawlers concentrate their fishing activities in the coastal sector between 6 and 25 m. There is a need for regulation of fishing activities in this coastal sector (0–25 m) to control the conflict between artisanal and industrial fishing units sharing fishing grounds shown in Figure 5.
The shrimpers which exploit the pink shrimp (Penaeus notialis) mainly operate in the coastal sector between the Rivers Cameroon and New Calabar. Sometimes the shrimpers operate off the Sanaga River. The pink shrimp is more available to the shrimpers at a depth of 30–60 m whereas in neighbouring Nigeria, Penaeus notialis can be fished in much more inshore waters. This could be attributed to the presence of considerably much less saline waters off the estuaries of River Rio del Rey and Cameroon. The Guinea shrimp (Parapenaeopsis atlantica) is sought in the shallower coastal sector of 10–30 m depth. The main fishing ground for Parapenaeopsis is located between Sanaga River and Ambas Bay.
A list of commercially important species exploited by the industrial fleets is shown in Appendix 2.