FISHERY COUNTRY PROFILE

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

FID/CP/LBR

Image: http://www.fao.org/fi/FCP/en/LBR/PICS/FAOLOGO.GIF

April 2007

PROFIL DE LA PÊCHE PAR PAYS

Organisation des Nations Unies pour l'alimentation et l'agriculture

RESUMEN INFORMATIVO SOBRE
LA PESCA POR PAISES

Organización de las Naciones Unidas para la Agricultura y la Alimentación

THE REPUBLIC OF LIBERIA

GENERAL ECONOMIC DATA - April 2007

Area:

111 370 km²

Water area:

15 050 km²

Population (2004):

3.3 million

GDP at purchaser's value (2005):

US$ 548.4 million

GNI per head (2005):

$US 130

Agricultural GDP (2005):

US$ 348.8 million

Fisheries GDP (estimate for 2005):

12% of Agricultural GDP

2.  Fisheries data (2004)

Production

Imports

Exports

Total supply

Per capita supply

‘000 tonnes live weight

kg/year

Fish for direct human consumption

11 314

3 536

84

14 766

4.4

Fish for animal feed and other purposes

0

0

0

0

0

Estimated Employment (2004):

(i) Primary sector (including aquaculture):

2 950

(ii) Secondary sector:

8 300

Trade (2005):

Value of fisheries imports:

US$ 3 177 000

Value of fisheries exports:

US$ 702 000

3.   Fishery sector structure

Overall fishery sector

Liberia has a total area of about 111 370 km², of which 96 320 km² (86 percent) is dry land, drained by natural streams and rivers. The vegetation consists of forest and woodland (39 percent), pastures (2 percent) and arable land (36 percent). Freshwater resources cover 15 050 km² (14 percent) of the total area of Liberia, comprising rivers, lakes, lagoons, creeks and streams that drain to the Atlantic coast, bringing nutrients to sustain the primary productivity of the shelf.

With an Atlantic coastline of about 579 km and a continental shelf averaging 34 km in width, the fishing grounds cover 186 322.2 km² within the EEZ.

Fisheries are important for several reasons:

The sector provides about 65 percent of the animal protein needs of the country at the moment, since the livestock programme is still being revitalized. Fisheries contribute about 3.2 percent to the GDP of Liberia, and create job and income earning opportunities, thus generating revenue for government.

National fisheries has three main subcomponents:

The coastal (marine) fishery comprises both industrial and artisanal. This subsector is more mechanized than the other subsectors, in that it utilizes improved methods of fishing, equipment and gear. It is also the sector most relevant for implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries in the Liberian context.

The inland fishery subsector is primitive, but contributes 25 percent of the fish consumed by rural dwellers. The development of this subsector is a focus for supplementing all other sectors of the fisheries.

Aquaculture is largely subsistence. Two fish hatcheries, established at Klay and Douyee Town with assistance from the EU, were left in ruins by the recent hostilities. Culture techniques involve mainly pond-based hatchery and pond management of tilapia.

Fish processing and preservation methods include salting, smoke drying and fermenting, usually involving the use of choker smokers and kilns by artisanal fishers, and freezing by the industrial companies.

There are about 11 250 persons involved in fisheries, including full-time and part-time, sport fishers and fish dealers. There are currently 1050 fish farmers.

About 60 percent of the total domestic fish catch is landed by the artisanal subsector, with landing sites distributed throughout the country, especially along the coastline.

The pre-war estimate of the sustainable yield of the continental shelf of Liberia was about 180 000 t/year, and 40 000 t/year for freshwater. Catch has however ranged between 10 300 and 11 700 t/yr from 2000 to 2004. A research survey in 1986 estimated the total biomass of both pelagic and demersal species at 800 000 t.

2. Inland subsector

Liberia has two kinds of river systems: major basins that drain 97 percent of the territory and originate from the Fouta Djallon highlands in Guinea, and short coastal watercourses, which drain about 3 percent of the country. There is a total of 1800 km of river, most of which is shallow, rocky and with cataracts and fallen logs that render them innavigable. There are also large areas of inland valley swamps and numerous coastal lagoons, including Lake Piso, one of West Africa’s largest lagoons. Inland fishery is underdeveloped and traditional in the methods of exploitation, and not monitored. As such, there is no information on its level of production.

Catch profile

Table 1. Annual fisheries production of Liberia, 1995–2004 (tonnes)

Year

Artisanal

Industrial

Inland

Aquaculture

Total

1995

3460

1675

n.a.

n.a

5135

1996

2036

1104

n.a.

n.a.

3140

1997

2519

2061

n.a.

n.a.

4580

1998

3757

3071

n.a.

n.a.

6830

1999

7078

4394

n.a.

n.a.

11471

2000

6995

4731

n.a.

22

11748

2001

8089

3197

n.a.

14

11300

2002

6890

4110

n.a.

14

11014

2003

6721

3979

n.a.

14

10714

2004

5646

4713

n.a.

38

10397

Sources: Regulatory and Statistics section, Bureau of Fisheries, 2004; FAO, 2006.

Fishery areas

Liberia is situated within the East Central Atlantic region of the Gulf of Guinea, and has a fishery area of 186 322.2 km² within the EEZ. The fishing area extends from the shrimp rich shebro grounds bordering Sierra Leone in the west, to the Cavalla River Basin bordering Côte d’Ivoire. There are also 1800 km of rivers endowed with a rich aquatic fauna.

Fishing production means

The Liberian fisheries comprise both industrial and artisanal sectors, which deploy various vessels, gear types and fishing methods. In 2004, there were 8 industrial companies operating some 28 trawlers, which included for the first time 8 Chinese paired trawlers. There are about 20 rigged side and stern trawlers registered with the industrial fleet, involved in both fishing and shrimping operations.

The artisanal fleet comprises the indigenous Kru canoe (1–3 person crew), operated by Kru fishermen using oars or sail. These are small dugout canoes of about 7 m, some of which are also powered by 7 hp outboard engines, deploying mainly hook and long lines and gillnets.

The Fanti canoes are larger (12–15 m) and powered by 25–45 hp engines, with a crew of 15. Their gears are ring and purse nets used for small pelagic species, with larger gillnets specifically adapted for different species and seasons. These account for about 40 percent of the artisanal landings.

The Popohs operate beach seines (200–800 m long) using dugout canoes (5–7 m), usually with a 1- or 2-person crew.

4. Main resources

There is a somewhat diverse pelagic fishery resource. The coastal pelagic fish species exploited by the artisanal fleets include Caranx, Sphyraena, Cybium, Trichiurus, Sardinella, Ethmalosa, Chloroscombrus, Vomer, Ilisha africana, Pseudotolithus, Dentex, Cyanoglossus, Galeoides decadactylus and Pentanemus quinquarius (Polynemidae), Drepane africana (Drepanidae),Arius spp. (Ariidae), Cynoglossus spp. (Cynoglossidae), Ilisha africana, Ethmalosa fimbriata (Clupeidae) and Parapenaeus atlantica and Lutjanus spp.

The industrial subsector exploits the shrimp resources, mainly Penaeus duorarum notialis and Parapenaeopsis atlantica. This sector also exploits pelagic and demersal resources, including Pomadasys jubelini (Pomadasyidae), Pseudotolithus senegalensis, P. typus (Sciaenidae) and Lutjanus spp.

5.   Management applied to main fisheries

Management of the fisheries in Liberia is mainly through input control and technical measures. The objectives are to regulate fishing effort and mesh sizes through registration of vessels and the monitoring of fishing activities. Regular inspection of gear and the deployment of inspectors aboard vessels and at fish landing sites is a strategy to ensure compliance with rules and regulations governing the fishery sector.

Recreational sub-sector

Recreational fishing is not yet as developed as the industrial sector, and is less regulated, like the inland fishery. In 2004, there were only two recreational fishing permits issued by the Bureau of National Fisheries, even though it is required by law. It is practised mainly by foreigners and upper-class citizens using motorized boat on the St. Paul and Mesurado River Basins, around Monrovia. There are less than 100 persons (mainly males) involved and there is no data on production from this subsector.

Aquaculture sub-sector

Aquaculture activities begun in the mid 1970s, with fishponds developed at the Central Agriculture Experimental Station in Suakoko, for breeding experiments with common carps, Nile tilapia and catfish varieties. Extension was provided by Peace Corps Volunteers to small-scale farmers. It was promoted by the BCADP, NCRADP and LCADP in Bong, Lofa and Nimba Counties, with pre-war production reaching 29 t. Post-war production has been boosted by the EU-supported hatcheries at Klay (Bomi County), Douyee Town (Grand Gedeh County) and Salayea (Lofa County), which supplied the necessary fish fingerlings to farmers. Production rose from 22 t in 2000 to 38 t in 2004, with Oreochromis niloticus, Tilapia zili, Clarias sp. and Heterobranchus sp. as the main culture species. The number of fish farmers rose from 350 in 2000 to 1050 part-time, subsistence farmers in 2004.

6.  Post harvest use

Fish utilization

All crustaceans are packaged and frozen for export to Europe (Belgium, Greece, Spain, UK) and to the United States of America. Almost all finfish is frozen whole and marketed for domestic consumption. The fishing industry lacks the infrastructure and equipment to process export-quality fish products.

Fish markets

Shrimps are frozen for export while finfish is frozen and distributed to fish depots around Monrovia and in major cities around the country. Fish is bought from depots by women who sell them to rural dwellers in the villages and towns, usually operating on foot.

7.  Fishery sector performance

Economic role of fisheries in the national economy

Fisheries are a major contributor to the economy, providing a relatively cheap source of animal protein for the population, bringing in export earnings and providing employment. The sector contributes about 12 percent of agricultural GDP, but less than 4 percent of national GDP at producer prices.

Demand

Fish currently provides about 65 percent of animal protein intake and is significantly cheaper than meat or chicken. Per capita consumption is low (4.33 kg/yr), compared to 16 kg in other parts of the world. The demand gap stands at 11.67 kg per person.

Supply

The per capita supply of fish in 2004 was 4.33 kg, far lower than the 14 kg recorded in the 1980s. The supply of fish protein to the population could be increased by improvements in transportation and in storage and distribution conditions; improved and sustainable fishing methods; and perhaps by increasing aquaculture, both marine and freshwater.

Trade

A great deal of fish, particularly sardines, snappers, groupers and grunters, is imported from the high seas of Morocco, Spain and neighbouring states.

Employment

There are about 11 250 persons involved in fisheries, including full-time and part-time, sport fishers and fish dealers. There are currently 1050 fish farmers spread around the country. Some 10 000 persons, including fishers, fish dealers and processors are involved with the artisanal sector, including inland, while about 500 persons are involved with the industrial sector, most of whom are employed as deck hands on vessels or as labourers in fish cold storage units and depots around the country.

Rural development

More than 50 percent of the population live along the coastal area, where the predominant occupation is fishing. With improved capacity of fishers to increase catch, more people are getting involved, thus contributing to the stability of most fishing communities.

8.  Fishery sector development

Constraints

The fishery sector is plagued with constraints, which have hampered its development for many decades. These include:

Development prospects and strategies

There have been no in-depth and regular studies of the country’s marine and freshwater resources. Though the Liberian continental shelf is not amongst the most productive in the subregion, assessments in the 1980s estimated the potential yield of demersal species to be between 2 500 and 15 000 t, and that for pelagic species to be between 20 000 and 40 000 t. Annual catch of both pelagic and demersal species has ranged between 7 000 and 15 000 tons. The potential for shrimps along the coast is about 1000 t/yr.

Research indicates that there is good potential for increasing landings, but catch per unit effort by research vessels in Liberian waters has been consistently lower than elsewhere in the subregion.

With an irrigation potential of 600 000 ha, one strategy to ensuring adequate domestic fish supply would be a shift to aquaculture.

Research

Asur-Liberia Inc. was engaged in hydrobiological work on inland water bodies of Bong and Nimba Counties. The objectives were to carry out an inventory of fish species in these water bodies and collect baseline data on their physico-chemical properties. The aim of this project was to identify local species suitable for culture in parts of Liberia. The project was for one year and supported by the Government of France.

Education

Training in fishery is limited to short-term workshops and seminars conducted by local and international NGOs engaged in fishery-related projects. There are no institutions for training in fisheries, and related courses have not yet been introduced into tertiary educational institutions.

Foreign aid

There are currently a number of projects in the fisheries sector.

9.   General legal frameworks

The legal instrument for fisheries management is the ‘Revised Fisheries Rules and Regulations’ of 1973, enshrined into the ‘Natural Resources Laws’ of 1956, which empowers the Ministry of Agriculture through the Bureau of National Fisheries to impose fees and fines, and take measures to enhance the sustainable management and utilization of the fisheries resources of Liberia.

Reference sources used

FAO. 2005. Information from the Fisheries Information Data and Statistic Unit.

FAO/MOA. 2005. Assessment Mission Report (Project TCP/LIR/2905 (E)) 13 p.

FAO. 2005. Irrigation in Africa in Figures – AQUASTAT Survey 2005. 6 p.

FFDC. 2005. Assessment of Artisanal Communities in South Eastern Liberia. 6 p.

FFDC. 2005. Aquaculture Assessment of Bong and Nimba Counties. 12 p.

LWF/WS. 2004. Aquaculture Assessment Report. 6 p.

Government of Liberia. 2006. National Human Development Report.

Bureau of National Fisheries. 2004. Annual Report. 32 p.

CIA. 2006. World Fact Book – Liberia.

Organigram of the Bureau of National Fisheries (BNF), Liberia


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