The inland waters of Africa play an increasingly important role in the provision of animal protein in a continent which is traditionally poor in this essential commodity. The expansion of demand, the introduction of new fishing techniques and above all the creation of new bodies of water have posed problems of development and management which must be solved if the maximum potential for production from these waters is to be maintained.
A rational development and management policy presupposes a good knowledge of the resources available. Questions of resource evaluation have long been the concern of FAO, and have been the subject of research by projects centred on certain of the lakes of Africa, both natural and man-made. Studies have also been carried out by some individual countries and by the International Biological Program (IBP). As a result a corpus of expertise has been built up in several of the African nations which has provided the basis for two seminars on stock assessment, one held in Jinja, Uganda, in May 1970, and the other in Bujumbura, Burundi, in June 1971.
The promotion and coordination of surveys and programmes leading to the rational utilization of inland fisheries is one of the primary terms of reference of the FAO Committee for Inland Fisheries of Africa (CIFA) and a Symposium on the Evaluation of Fishery Resources in the Development and Management of Inland Fisheries was held as part of the First Session of CIFA in Fort-Lamy, Chad, from November 29 to 1 December, 1972.
With the general intention of establishing the role that resource evaluation can play in the development and management of inland fisheries the objectives of the Symposium were to:
Review generally the role of the various disciplines currently involved in the evaluation of the fishery resources of the inland waters of Africa.
Review the present state of knowledge of the fishery resources of some representative African inland waters.
Discuss future lines of endeavour, national and international, in the evaluation of resources for the rational development and management of the fisheries of the inland waters of Africa.
Prepare recommendations for implementation.
The Symposium was held in five consecutive meetings. The first and last of which consisted of panels. Dr. J. Okedi, Director of the East African Freshwater Fisheries Research Organization, served as Moderator and led all the panels. Four background papers and 13 individual contributions were presented and discussed. The Symposium was attended by fishery workers from 19 countries and by personnel from UNDP/FAO Fishery projects as listed in Appendix A.