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Part I Overview and main indicators

  1. Country brief
  2. General geographic and economic indicators
  3. FAO Fisheries statistics

Part II Narrative (2016)

  1. Production sector
    • Marine sub-sector
      • Catch profile
      • Landing sites
      • Fishing practices/systems
      • Main resources
      • Management applied to main fisheries
    • Inland sub-sector
      • Catch profile
      • Landing sites
      • Fishing practices/systems
      • Main resources
      • Management applied to main fisheries
    • Aquaculture sub-sector
    • Recreational sub-sector
  2. Post-harvest sector
    • Fish utilization
    • Fish markets
  3. Socio-economic contribution of the fishery sector
    • Role of fisheries in the national economy
    • Trade
    • Food security
    • Employment
    • Rural development
  4. Trends, issues and development
    • Constraints and opportunities
    • Government and non-government sector policies and development strategies
    • Research, education and training
      • Research
      • Education and training
    • Foreign aid
  5. Institutional framework
  6. Legal framework
    • Regional and international legal framework
  7. Annexes
  8. References

Additional information

  1. FAO Thematic data bases
  2. Publications
  3. Meetings & News archive

Part I Overview and main indicators

Part I of the Fishery and Aquaculture Country Profile is compiled using the most up-to-date information available from the FAO Country briefs and Statistics programmes at the time of publication. The Country Brief and the FAO Fisheries Statistics provided in Part I may, however, have been prepared at different times, which would explain any inconsistencies.

Country briefPrepared: May 2016

La République de Djibouti possède un littoral d’une longueur totale de 372 km. Sa zone économique exclusive (ZEE) s’étend sur 7 190 km2. Son plateau continental sur lequel les ressources halieutiques sont concentrées, couvre une superficie de 2 492 km2, soit 34,6 pour cent de la ZEE. Les zones les plus riches en ressources halieutiques sont situées au nord du pays (Obock) et, au sud, à la frontière avec la Somalie. Les poissons démersaux représentent 55 pour cent de ces ressources contre 45 pour cent de pélagiques. La réglementation de la pêche est régie par la loi de 2002 portant Code de la pêche.

Les débarquements actuels sont proches de 2 300 tonnes en 2014. Le secteur de la pêche fournit environ 1 200 emplois  dont environ 600 pêcheurs à temps plein.

La consommation de poisson est très limitée (entre 1 et 2 kg par habitant par an) et son apport en protéines d’origine animale est marginal. La totalité des débarquements est consommée en frais. Le réseau de distribution vers les quartiers périphériques et les zones rurales est totalement défaillant en raison des moyens de transport inadéquats et des habitudes alimentaires des populations rurales. Les exportations des produits de la pêche sont très limitées et évaluées à 0,1 millions d’USD en 2013. Au cours de la même année, les importations ont atteint 4,8 millions d’USD.

Le secteur de la pêche a été identifié par le Gouvernement comme un segment de l’activité économique pouvant contribuer à la croissance économique du pays, à la réduction de la pauvreté tant en milieu urbain que rural et à la sécurité alimentaire par la satisfaction des besoins en protéines animales.

L’aquaculture est presque inexistante à Djibouti; sa production reste marginale mais l'intérêt du gouvernement demeure élevé, en particulier dans le développement de l'aquaculture de crevette, des cages marines et des algues rouges.

L’un des enjeux de Djibouti est de mettre en œuvre des interventions idoines pour une exploitation efficiente et durable de ses ressources et développement de la rente d’exportation. Si ce potentiel est convenablement exploité Djibouti pourrait facilement exporter une bonne quantité de poissons de haute valeur commerciale vers les marchés porteurs ; toutefois ce pays demeure pour le moment interdit d'exporter vers l'Union européenne. Le pays devra aussi se pencher résolument sur la promotion de la consommation des produits halieutiques au sein de la population, ce qui va de paire avec l’amélioration de l’accès aux services et les pratiques de manutention des produits. Une attention particulière est à accorder aux conditions de travail des artisans pêcheurs, principaux acteurs de la chaine d’approvisionnement du marché national.

Le Djibouti est Partie à la Convention des Nations Unies de 1982 sur le droit de la mer depuis octobre 1991.
 
General geographic and economic indicators

Table 1 - Djibouti -General Geographic and Economic Data

    Source
Shelf area 3 187 km2 Review of the state of world marine capture fisheries management, Indian Ocean. FAO. http://www.fao.org/docrep/009/a0477e/a0477e0h.htm
Length of continental coastline

314 km

Review of the state of world marine capture fisheries management, Indian Ocean. FAO. http://www.fao.org/docrep/009/a0477e/a0477e0h.htm
Fisheries GDP (2012) USD 4.06 million(1)

The Economist (2014).  Djibouti. Fisheries Agreement Signed with UAE. http://country.eiu.com/article.aspx?articleid=1841937168&Country=Djibouti&topic=Economy&subtopic=_2

1)0.3% of USD 1 353 632 942.  Note that other sources, such as the National Investment Promotion Agency (2015). Invest in Djibouti. http://www.djiboutinvest.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=271&Itemid=648  give a GDP of 3.5% for the combined primary sector of agriculture, forestry and fishing.

Key statistics

Source
Country area23 200km2FAOSTAT. Official data, 2013
Land area23 180km2FAOSTAT. Expert sources from FAO (including other divisions), 2013
Inland water area20km2Computed. Calculated, 2013
Population - Est. & Proj.1.011millionsFAOSTAT. Official data, 2017
Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) area7 223km2VLIZ

Source: FAO Country Profile

FAO Fisheries statisticsThe tables and graphs in this section are based on statistics prepared by the FAO Fishery Information, Data and Statistics Unit and disseminated in 2016.
      1980 1990 2000 2010 2012 2013 2014
PRODUCTION (thousand tonnes) 0.3 0.4 0.8 1.6 2.2 1.7 2.3
    Inland 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
    Marine 0.3 0.4 0.8 1.6 2.2 1.7 2.3
  Aquaculture 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
    Inland 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
    Marine 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
  Capture 0.3 0.4 0.8 1.6 2.2 1.7 2.3
    Inland 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
    Marine 0.3 0.4 0.8 1.6 2.2 1.7 2.3
                   
TRADE (USD million)              
  Import 0.0 0.6 1.5 1.4 2.8 4.8  
  Export 0.0 0.2 0.0 0.1 0.1 0.1  
                   
EMPLOYMENT (thousands) 0.1 0.3 1.0 1.2 1.5 1.5 1.5
  Aquaculture              
  Capture 0.1 0.3 1.0 1.2 1.5 1.5 1.5
    Inland              
    Marine 0.1 0.3 1.0 1.2 1.5 1.5 1.5
                   
FLEET(thousands boats) ... ...
                   
APPARENT FOOD CONSUMPTION              
  Fish food supply (thousand tonnes in live weight equivalent) 0.3 0.5 1.8 2.2      
  Per Capita Supply (kilograms) 0.7 0.9 2.5 2.6      
  Fish Proteins (grams per capita per day) 0.2 0.3 0.7 0.8      
  Fish/Animal Proteins (%) 1.3 2.4 4.4 5.5      
  Fish/Total Proteins (%) 0.5 0.6 1.4 1.2      
                   
Source: FAO Fishery and Aquaculture Statistics              
1) Excluding aquatic plants              
2) Due to roundings total may not sum up              




Figure 1 — Djibouti— Total fishery production
Figure 1 — Djibouti— Total fishery production


Figure 2 — Djibouti — Production of aquatic plants
Figure 2 — Djibouti — Production of aquatic plants


Figure 3 — Djibouti — Capture production
Figure 3 — Djibouti — Capture production


Figure 4 — Djibouti — Major species groups in capture production
Figure 4 — Djibouti — Major species groups in capture production


Figure 5 — Djibouti — Composition of capture production – 2013
Figure 5 — Djibouti — Composition of capture production – 2013


Figure 6 — Djibouti — Aquaculture production
Figure 6 — Djibouti — Aquaculture production


Figure 7 — Djibouti —Major species groups in aquaculture production
Figure 7 — Djibouti —Major species groups in aquaculture production


Figure 8 — Djibouti— Import and export value of fish and fishery products
Figure 8 — Djibouti— Import and export value of fish and fishery products


Figure 9 — Djibouti – Major species groups in import
Figure 9 — Djibouti – Major species groups in import


Figure 10 — Djibouti – Major species groups in export
Figure 10 — Djibouti – Major species groups in export


Figure 11 — Djibouti — Per capita supply of fish and fishery products
Figure 11 — Djibouti — Per capita supply of fish and fishery products


Figure 12 — Djibouti — Composition of total fish food supply - 2011
Figure 12 — Djibouti — Composition of total fish food supply - 2011


Updated 2016Part II Narrative

Part II of the Fishery and Aquaculture Country Profile provides supplementary information that is based on national and other sources and that is valid at the time of compilation (see update year above). References to these sources are provided as far as possible.

Production sector

Republic of Djibouti is a sub-Saharan country, lying on the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, in the Horn of Africa. It occupies a strategic location at the intersection of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. Resource-scarce and small in physical size, with a 23 200-sq. km land area out of which water consisting of lakes and reservoirs covers only 20 sq. km, Djibouti is made up of intertidal sand and mud flats, islands, sandy shores, coral reefs, and shallow marine waters extending from south of the capital, Djibouti City, to the border with Somalia.

Djibouti has jurisdiction over 4 877 sq. km of territorial waters and a 1 513.5 sq. km-contiguous zone. Its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) extends for approximately 7 000 sq. km and the total area of waters under its jurisdiction amounts to 100 000 sq. km. Its continental shelf is composed of both soft bottom and coralline areas. These plankton-rich areas attract a diversity of fish species in the waters surrounding Djibouti whose continental coastline of 314 kilometers at the crossroads of the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, imbues it with a considerable fishery potential.

Djibouti has a fishery which is evolving as a major sector, its two traditional economic pillars being foreign direct investment (FDI) and port activity. In contrast with other sectors of agriculture, the fisheries sector is the only component of agriculture that is not substantially affected by Djibouti’s climate. Its potential is still largely untapped.

Because Djibouti’s fisheries sector is not well-developed its direct contribution to the national economy is negligible. There are no large-scale industrial fisheries in Djibouti; the fisheries sector is predominantly at a subsistence level, and conducted from a limited number of small vessels using basic equipment.While Djibouti’s current national fish production amounts to about 2 000 metric tonnes of fish and seafood per year, the potential maximum sustainable yield of its exploitable fishery resources is in the order of 38 000 metric tonnes of both commercial (4 500 tonnes) and non-commercial fish species (33 500 tonnes). The existing huge gap between potential and production quantities is mainly the result of insufficient fishing craft and gear, inadequate storage and processing facilities, and poor distribution network, amongst others.

In Djibouti, fishing permanently employs over 3 000 people and is practiced on a small scale, mainly along the coastline. Djibouti’s marine catch profile is composed mainly of tuna, barracuda, seerfish, jobfish, groupers, swordfish and carangids. Sardine, Indian mackerel, Spanish mackerel, and yellowfin tuna dominate pelagic finfish catches while the demersal catch is dominated by species of snapper, jack, emperor, lizardfish, grouper, seerfish, and sea bream.

At only 1.5 kg per annum, the per capita fish consumption in Djibouti is low. Fish exports are equally low and amount to an average of 500 tonnes a year, destined mainly to the European Union and the Gulf states.
  • The Government of Djibouti is, however, making efforts to harness its fisheries potential and ensure that the fisheries sector contributes significantly to national growth, particularly through export to international markets. The government places high priority on the sector as a strategy against poverty, unemployment and food insecurity. A fishing port, with a free-zone status, built by the Government of Djibouti is on concession to a private management company. Its objective is to develop and promote fishing activities and aquaculture.
There is currently no aquaculture in Djibouti even though the conditions are suitable for breeding certain species of shrimps and algae.Marine sub-sectorCatch profile

Djibouti has highly productive marine waters for fisheries purposes. Its fish stocks have the capacity to make Djibouti self-sufficient in fish and, at the same time, generate significant quantities for exports. But although fisheries activities have improved over the years, fish production remains low because fishing traditionally is not a component of Djiboutian livelihoods nor do fish make a significant contribution to Djibouti’s national diet.

Fishing is largely a marginal economic activity in Djibouti, conducted by both seasonal and professional full-time fishers. Landings from artisanal fishers constitute the bulk of the total national catch. Djibouti’s fish production, in the order of 2 000 tonnes a year, is currently low though its potential sustainable fish yield is nearly 40 000 metric tonnes per annum. Small pelagic resources (mainly the sardine, Harengula punctata, and anchovy, Thrissocles baleana and Amentum heteroboloum) make up the bulk of the small pelagic landings, which are approximately 10-15 percent of total landings in Djibouti. Reef fishes including grouper (Epinephelus spp.), barracuda (Sphyraena spp.) and snappers (Lutjanus spp.) largely make up the demersal species. In total, these three species groups comprise about 60 percent of total landings with the snappers and groupers dominating.Important commercial invertebrate species caught in Djibouti’s waters include crustaceans such as penaeid shrimps and rock lobsters and crabs, and cephalopods such as cuttlefishes. The shark fishery and shrimp fishery have very high by-catch rates of fish, turtles and dolphins, which are discarded at sea. Shark resources are heavily fished, sometimes illegally by unlicensed foreign vessels, for their fins which are targeted for the east-Asian market. Marine turtles and turtle eggs are also often collected illegally.
Landing sites

Among the most important fishing sites in Djibouti are Obock , the site of Tadjoura, and the coastal zone of South-East of Djibouti in the Arta District.

Djibouti has a fishing port, which benefits fishers in many ways by offering them:
  • cleaner and better protected unloading facilities;
  • access to production credit;
  • the availability of production inputs at more competitive prices;
  • the availability of fishing materials and equipment storage areas; and
  • the availability of restaurants.


Built with the major aim of reducing poverty among the Djiboutian population, the fishing port has the following objectives:
  • to increase fish production in order to boost the Djibouti population’s animal protein intake,
  • enhance fish exports,
  • improve the working conditions of fishers,
  • generate additional output of about 4,000 tonnes of fishery products, and
  • create jobs.


But though the fishing port and related facilities were built to boost fish production, the fish must be exported to the international market to meet this objective, as fish consumption is very low in Djibouti.
Fishing practices/systems

Djibouti’s fishing industry is predominantly at a subsistence level, conducted from a limited number of small vessels using basic, mainly traditional gear.

The entire fishing fleet of Djibouti is currently estimated at 300 boats, of which 60 percent are 7 - 9 meter-long wooden boats equipped with 45 horsepower (HP) outboard engines, the rest being 9 -14 meter-long boats equipped with inboard engines. Also employed in fishing are fiberglass boats fitted with outboard engines of 25 to 40 horsepower.Artisanal fishers in Djibouti, as in most of the rest of the Gulf of Aden, use a range of gear, including spears, traps, long-lines, hand lines, gill nets, trammel nets, tangle nets, cast nets and set nets. Sharks are caught with gill nets and long-line which, however, damage coral reefs. Most of the boats use labour-intensive techniques and primarily conduct line and net fishing. Spear fishing, though illegal, is practiced widely in Djibouti.

The government of Djibouti encourages fishers to employ improved fishing methods in the pursuit of their trade. Under the Government of Djibouti-African Development Fund Integrated Fisheries Development Project, 80 fishing boats were procured, out of which 76 were distributed on hire purchase to fishers and the remaining four were put at the disposal of Obock Fishers’ Training Centre.
Main resources

The waters of Djibouti are rich in flora and fauna, and have a variety of marine life, much akin to that of the entire northern Red Sea. There is a significant occurrence of plankton blooms in Djibouti between the months of September and December. This occurrence is most pronounced in an enclosed bay near Djibouti town called the Goubet al – Kharab, (the Devils Cauldron).

These plankton-rich waters attract many pelagic species into the area around Djibouti, including the Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus) and Manta Rays (Manta sp.) as well as shoals of barracuda (Family Sphyraenidae), jacks (Family Carangidae) and snapper (Family Lutjanidea). Spinner Dolphin (Stenella longirostris), the Beaked Whale (Family Ziphiidae) and Pilot Whale (Globicephala sp.) are among the small cetaceans which are common in the area.

There is a total of 192 fish species in Djibouti’s national waters. According to a detailed fish stock assessment conducted in 1996 by the German technical agency Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GTZ) for the Government of Djibouti, Djibouti’s marine waters support a mean total annual biomass of at least 102 000 metric tonnes of fishery resources, consisting of 28 000 metric tonnes of demersals, 56 000 metric tonnes of small pelagics and 18 000 – 19 000 metric tonnes of large pelagics. The potential maximum sustainable yield (MSY) of the exploitable fish stock of Djibouti’s waters is of the order of 38 000 metric tonnes, composed of 15 000 tonnes of demersals and 23 000 tonnes of pelagics. Of these, however, the exploitable fishery resources of commercial value amount to only 4 500 metric tonnes comprising 1 300 tonnes of demersals and 3 200 tonnes of pelagics per annum.

The most frequently captured species include slipmouth, triggerfish, seerfish, groupers, dolfinfish, trevallies, tuna, barracuda and red snappers.

Tuna is caught as a target species in Djibouti, with annual outputs ranging from 300 to 400 metric tonnes. One common tuna-like species exploited in the Djibouti waters is Scomberomorus commerson (narrow-barred Spanish mackerel), locally known as “Derak”. This is a migratory species found in the waters of the Tadjourah Gulf, between 30 and 40 meters deep during the fishing season. Juvenile fish are the first to appear at lower depths in December, soon followed by medium-sized fish in January, and finally by larger adult fish from May to July.

Two other important Scombridæ species, Euthynnus affinis, locally known as “Cherva” (kawakawa or “Thonine orientale”) and Thunnus tonggol locally known as “Zeinube” (longtail tuna or “thon mignon”) are exploited in Djibouti during the North-East monsoon season (October to April).

Also, during short periods, some tuna species, such as yellowfin, bigeye, skipjack, as well as swordfish and sailfish, appear en-masse in the waters of Djibouti, during the North-East monsoon when they are quite abundant in the waters.

Djibouti has coral reef systems which, although limited in volume, are important for their high ecological values. Djibouti’s coral reef and mangrove ecosystem is of major importance for fisheries. A considerable part of Djibouti’s mainland and island coastline is protected by coral reefs, including larger reef systems at Musha and Maskali and continuous fringing reefs from Arta Plage to Khor Dorale, as well as isolated patch reefs around Moidubis Kebir, Moidubis Sanghir and the Sept Frères island complex. In addition to offering shoreline protection, these coral reefs provide breeding grounds and nurseries for coastal and pelagic fish species. About 60 percent of commercially-exploited fish species hosted in Djibouti waters depend, at some time in their life cycle, on these ecosystems.

Fisheries activity is entirely artisanal in Djibouti, and is concentrated in the north and south of the Gulf of Tadjoura. The north is the most productive fishing area, though it has no ice or cold storage facilities and is distant from Djibouti city. Marine resources are largely underexploited in Djibouti except in areas near the capital city, including Dorale, Khor Ambado, Arta Plage and the islands of Musha, Maskali and Waramous, where pressure is exerted on the resources as a result of extensive sport- and artisanal fisheries.

With Djibouti’s fishery resources being currently grossly underexploited, the total output falls (2 000 tonnes) significantly below the maximum sustainable yield (4 500 tonnes). But while the artisanal fisheries are insufficiently exploited, the shark resources are heavily fished. This is because of illegal fishing and lack of control over the shark fishery. Fishers move from outside their normal territorial boundaries to poach sharks in the Djibouti EEZ for the Southeast Asian shark-fin market.

There is no domestic industrial fishery in Djibouti because the shelf area would not permit industrial operations, including trawling. Several constraints contribute towards the low levels of fish production in Djibouti. These include the shortage of downstream output infrastructure, due to the engineering challenges created by the 2 km tidal fall. The tidal fall limits fishers’ outings to sea as these are dependent on tides. Limiting their activities to the coastal areas with no capability to tap the better-stocked offshore fishing areas often results in catches of modest commercial volume.
Management applied to main fisheries

The main objective of Djibouti’s agricultural policy as envisaged in the General policy declaration of the Government is food security, upon which the government has taken the action to exploit the small pelagic fish species in Djibouti’s waters.

Management objectives

In its general policy declaration, the Government of Djibouti has introduced a sustainable management programme to diversify fisheries resources and increase the volume of marine fishing. The policy involves the following:
  • encouraging the private sector and the cooperative movement to become involved and invest in marine fishing activities;
  • improving fish distribution and marketing chains and promoting local consumption of fish;
  • encouraging an increase in the fishing fleet with wider coverage;
  • providing on-going training in the Obock training centre for professional fishers;
  • giving technical support to cooperatives active in the sector;
  • ensuring that the fisheries sector adopts international sanitary standards;
  • introducing a research programme focusing on experimental fishing, and
  • initiating aquaculture activities.
To this end, the Government has reviewed the production structure, resulting in increased output, and has conducted training/outreach so as to build up technical and management capacity among fishing communities and institutions. For this purpose, a Fisheries Master Plan was drawn up; a request for financing its priority action programmes was submitted to the African Development Bank (ADB); and under a project financed by the FAO, the technical capacity of fishing communities has been strengthened.

Management measures and institutional arrangements

Management measures applied to the Djibouti fisheries include closed seasons, closed fishing zones, imposition of catch limits and prohibition of harmful fishing devices and techniques. Use of explosives and poison for fishing purposes is prohibited in Djibouti; as is spear-fishing. Marine pollution is illegal, and endangered species are protected. The sea-bottom and marine fauna are protected by law. The capture of marine mammals and turtles, and trade or export in them, is illegal. It is also illegal to collect turtle eggs. The marine protected areas of ‘Parc territorial de Musha’ and the ‘Reserve integrale de Mascali’, both established by law, are under conservation.

Djibouti has established good conservation measures for all its fishery resources. One tool which has been of help in this regard is the legal framework regulating the fisheries sector, particularly the measure concerning the prohibition of both industrial fishing and the use of trawls.

More specifically, faced with grave concerns over illegal fishing in the waters of Djibouti, the Ministry responsible for Fisheries has developed, with help from FAO, a National Plan of Action to prevent, deter and eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (NPOA-IUU) in conformity with the International Plan of Action (IPOA-IUU). This NPAO-IUU, validated at the local level by all Parties concerned with illegal fishing, is a robust tool aimed at strengthening the national surveillance framework currently in place.

Inland sub-sectorCatch profile

There is no significant freshwater body in Djibouti. Djibouti has only two medium-sized lakes (Lake Asal and Lake Abbe) and one medium-sized lagoon (Ghoubet Kharab). Lake Abbe is the larger lake and is shared with Ethiopia.The catch profile of the inland waters of Djibouti include Common ponyfish [ Leiognathidae (Leiognathus equulus)], Bluespot mullet [Mugilidae (Moolgarda seheli)] and (Silver sillago [Sillaginidae (Sillago sihama)].

Landing sitesThe banks of Lake Asal and Lake Abbe constitute the landing sites for the limited inland fisery of Djibouti.

Fishing practices/systems

Foot fishers using basic traditional gear and/or destructive fishing practices such as spear- fishing, though unauthorized, often fish in Djibouti’s waters.
Main resources

Djibouti’s Lac Assal (Lake Assal), at 155m below sea level, is the lowest point in Africa and the saltiest lake in the world.

The following 11 fish species are native to Djibouti and inhabit its inland waters: Goldsilk seabream [Sparidae (Acanthopagrus berda)], Freshwater goby [Gobiidae (Awaous aeneofuscus)], Squaretail mullet [Mugilidae (Ellochelon vaigiensis)], Common ponyfish [ Leiognathidae (Leiognathus equulus)], Indo-pacific tarpon [Megalopidae (Megalops cyprinoides)], Silver moony [Monodactylidae (Monodactylus argenteus)], Bluespot mullet [Mugilidae (Moolgarda seheli)], Indian pellona [Pristigasteridae (Pellona ditchela)], Silver sillago [Sillaginidae (Sillago sihama)], Jarbua terapon [Terapontidae (Terapon jarbua)] and Longjaw thryssa [Engraulidae (Thryssa setiros)].
Management applied to main fisheriesDjibouti’s government targets fisheries as a major sector for development, for both domestic and export markets. Government’s support to the fisheries sector has largely focused on the development of infrastructure and organization of fishers. Simple management measures contribute effectively in conserving the fisheries resources of Djibouti.
Aquaculture sub-sector

Aquaculture is currently non-existent in Djibouti although some mariculture trials in seaweed and oyster culture have been conducted without success.

In the early 1980s, seed of two high-quality oyster species (Crassostrea gigas and Ostrea edulis ) were imported from hatcheries in the U.S. to determine whether they could be technically and economically cultured in the Djibouti waters, using tethered free-floating rafts. This experiment was of limited success and was later discontinued with.
Recreational sub-sectorDjibouti is home to the following thirteen bays, important locations for sport fishing:Sport fishing is most active in areas in the vicinity of Djibouti Ville, including Dorale, Khor Ambado, Arta Plage and the islands of Musha, Maskali and Waramous.Djibouti waters are home to some common and popular tropical marine aquarium fish species including damselfish (family Pomacentridae), butterflyfish (family Chaetodontidae), angelfish (family Pomacanthidae) boxfish (family Ostaciidae), pufferfish (family Tetraodontidae), triggerfish (family Balistidae), surgeonfish (family Acanthuridae) and wrasses (family Labridae).

The Government of Djibouti has two marine protected areas (MPAs) at Parc Territorial de Musha and Reserve Integrale des Maskali-Sud.
Post-harvest sector

Fish utilization

Djibouti's annual fish catch is currently in the order of 2 000 tonnes per year and most fish are consumed fresh and locally, owing to limited cold storage facilities and supply chain deficiencies. Shark carcasses are habitually discarded once the fins, targeted at the Asian market, have been removed.Djibouti has successfully reversed the earlier inferior quality of its fishery products which was the underlying reason for the suspension of its fish exports to the European Union (EU) in 1998.The Government of Djibouti-ADF Integrated Fisheries Development Project, with the overarching aim to improve the quality of Djibouti’s fishery products and ensure their access to the international market, have undertaken the construction and equipment of a food sanitation laboratory (the Food Hygiene Laboratory), and the upgrading of the Fish Market of the Fishing Port to international standards. Djibouti thus satisfies production and health control measures imposed on products in European Union member countries.

The Government accordingly has implemented six new ministerial orders on fishery products, as follows:
  1. marketing standards for some fresh or refrigerated fishery products intended for export;
  2. hygiene in institutions that handle fishery products;
  3. hygiene on fishing vessels and factory ships;
  4. chemical criteria laid down for animal products;
  5. microbiological criteria for animal products; and
  6. hygiene in the wholesale outlets of fishery products.


In addition, the Government has prepared a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) equivalent legislation, as well as regulations on water control in institutions handling fishery products and good practices in the laboratory environment.

The fish processing and conservation unit of Djibouti’s fishing port has a capacity of 2 600 tonnes. Two factories in Djibouti process fish for the international market. Women engaged in the marketing of fish are equipped with cold boxes mounted on tricycles that can be manufactured locally and which are easier to operate and maintain compared to refrigerated trucks.

Fish markets

Fish marketing activities are conducted at the Djibouti fishing port where services such as supply of water, fuel and ice to the fishers are carried out. The company managing the port on concession from the government buys fish directly from the fishers for export to foreign markets where prices are more attractive.

The largest domestic market for fish and other fish products in Djibouti is Djibouti City where 70 percent of the population is concentrated. About 90 percent of the catch is landed and consumed in Djibouti City; there are few fish markets elsewhere. The domestic fish market is small because of low domestic fish consumption.

A considerable quantity of the national fish catch is sold locally through major distributors. Turtles are consumed, especially by coastal dwellers, and generate local income from the sale of eggs, meat and shells.

Socio-economic contribution of the fishery sector

Role of fisheries in the national economy

Djibouti has a developing fisheries sector, which makes up 0.3% to Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Djibouti’s fish production helps mitigate national food shortages and contributes, through exports, to offset the balance of payments deficit, generate income and create job opportunities. Foreign exchange earnings from fish exports help to create new jobs and enhance additional income, thereby contributing to poverty alleviation.

Trade

The fisheries sector of Djibouti’s economy strives to exploit the fisheries resources and export them to the European Union countries. The main fish items that are exported from Djibouti include salted anchovies and sardines. Fish exports to external markets where prices are more attractive are the best avenues to stimulate production in Djibouti.

Exports of fish and other fish products from Djibouti to the European Union (EU) market were prohibited in 1998 because conditions for the production and health inspection of fish in Djibouti did not meet the EU’s health standards. Fish export to the EU have since been reestablished.

Djibouti’s fish export quantities are of the order of 500 tonnes and are largely destined to the European Union, particularly Reunion Islands (France). Shark fin obtained from Djibouti waters is specifically exported to the Gulf States and Asia, mainly by Yemeni fishers.

Djibouti imports prawns from Yemen.

Food security

A food-deficit country, Djibouti imports nearly all of its food. Fish constitutes only a small portion of most people’s diet in Djibouti, and most fish is consumed fresh.

Djibouti’s total fish production is currently about 2 000 metric tonnes per annum, up from the 1991 lowest production of 252 tonnes and the 2001 production of 900 tonnes.

For the Government of Djibouti, the fisheries segment is one major arm of development of the agricultural sector that could contribute to poverty reduction and help to reduce the level of the country’s dependence on the outside world for food.

Djibouti’s Ministry for the Promotion of Women, Family and Social Welfare has established a project, tagged “Project for the Promotion of Fish Consumption and the Dissemination of Recipes of Fish-based Dishes in Low-income Families in Djibouti”. The objectives of the project are to:

  • assist female fishmongers to extend their activities to the poor neighborhoods of Djibouti through micro-credit;
  • improve the knowledge of mothers and young girls, who are members of community associations, in nutrition and children’s food;
  • teach mothers as well as cooks in the nutritional recovery centres of dispensaries, and young girls of associations, fish conservation techniques and fish recipes; and
  • promote fish consumption in low-income families.


Employment

More than 70 percent of the Djiboutian population is poor and more than 50 percent of the active population is unemployed.

Whereas Djibouti had some 300 fishers in 1983 and 600 in 1990, the fisheries sector currently provides permanent employment to 3 600 persons, of whom 600 are distributed among five fishing sites around the capital and the three districts. This number is expected to rise substantially with the ongoing development of the industry.Upon completion, Djibouti’s fishing port alone has facilitated the engagement of nearly 80 artisanal fishers, as well as the direct and indirect creation of associated jobs. It has also provided livelihoods to about 2 460 poor and underprivileged Djiboutians.

In addition to fishers who are direct primary employees, the fisheries sector absorbs many other Djiboutians in several related downstream fields including fish processing, packaging, storage and distribution, boat building and repair, fishing gear sale and maintenance, and many others. Over 2 800 such non-fishing job opportunities, out of the 3 600 permanent job opportunities, have been generated in the sector.

The OPEC Fund for International Development has given the total number of people working, in part-time or fulltime, in the fisheries industry in Djibouti as 18 000.

Rural development

The fisheries sector has a positive impact on employment and economic growth of rural fishing communities in Djibouti. Many Djiboutians are directly gainfully employed in the main fishing activity and many more earn a living, either fully engaged or on part-time, from ancillary fishery activities such as fishing gear and craft marketing and repair, fish processing and distribution, etcetera. Djiboutians living in rural fishing communities derive substantial livelihoods from fisheries. Fish is the principal source of protein in the diets of such people and provides invaluable food security for them. By providing income, employment and livelihoods to its host community, the fisheries sector contributes significantly in the development and stabilization of the rural Djibouti areas where it thrives.

Trends, issues and development

Constraints and opportunities

Many constraints are responsible for the stagnation of fish production in Djibouti. These include lack of public awareness of the fisheries sector’s potential contribution toward national economic development, lack of fisheries and aquaculture technical knowhow, shortage of modern and efficient fishing gear and craft, dearth of downstream post-production infrastructure, poor fish distribution equipment and networks, inadequate government incentives, poor fisheries extension services, inadequate training and lack of finance, amongst others. As regards aquaculture specifically, the average Djiboutian is still totally oblivious of the potential, economic viability and the practice of fish farming. The contribution of the fisheries sector to Djibouti’s GDP is marginal. Estimated at about 38 000 tonnes per annum, the exploitable fisheries resources of Djibouti are abundant, although they are not fully- exploited.

The development of the fisheries sector is constrained by tidal falls and the limitations they create. The implementation of legislation relating to the management of coastal and marine areas is currently weak. More effort needs to be made towards enforcement of appropriate laws.

Djibouti has only a limited capacity to patrol its waters is therefore unable to curb illegal fishing.

However, with a GDP contribution of only 0.3 percent, the potential of the fisheries sector, which is barely developed, is considerable. With a coastline of 314 km, Djibouti’s annual sustainable levels of exploitation can produce enough fish for both domestic consumption and for export, and contribute better to national economic growth.Private sector investment in Djibouti’s underdeveloped fisheries sector will result in major expansion of the sector with all the attendant benefits of employment generation, enhanced food security, and economic growth, etcetera.In an effort to comply with international regulations and enhance the access of its fishery products to the international market, the Government of Djibouti has updated and strengthened its regulations for fishery products. It has established a food sanitation laboratory and upgraded, to international standards, the institutions that handle fishery products, activities which will enable Djibouti to comply with international regulations. The laboratory has provided Djibouti with new inspection equipment that can accurately and rapidly carry out the numerous controls required by national and international regulations. At the fishing port, the processing and storage facilities have been improved and the processing capacity enhanced, though further improvements are still necessary.

Government and non-government sector policies and development strategies

In 2014, the Government of Djibouti signed an agreement to develop its fisheries and aquaculture sector. A major aspect of the agreement is a feasibility study on the market potential of Djibouti's fisheries, in both domestic and international markets. The agreement is an important initial step toward encouraging private-sector investment in Djibouti's underdeveloped fishing industry and will impact the entire sector significantly. Expansion of the fisheries sector will have a positive impact on employment and economic growth of Djibouti.A greater-level, more active cross-border fish trade agreement, facilitated and enhanced by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), between Djibouti and neighboring Ethiopia, has recently been commissioned, with a view to replicating the same arrangement between all IGAD member-countries.

Research, education and trainingResearch

The Institut Supérieur d’Etudes et de Recherche Scientifiques et Techniques (ISERST) (Higher Institute for Scientific and Technical Studies and Research) conducts scientific training and undertakes applied research on fisheries and related fields in Djibouti. The institute has created a Research Unit dedicated to marine biology.

Education and training

The Government of Djibouti operates a Fishers’ Training Centre at Obock.Fisheries management in Djibouti has a unique advantage in that new fishers are made to undergo a government training programme, during which they are taught the benefits of resource conservation. National Master Fishers undertake the following duties: the training of young fishers in the different artisanal fishing techniques, the training of fisheries sector employers, and training in the packaging and processing of fishery products.Djibouti’s organized fisheries private sector conducts different training programmes for the fishers to make the best use of available resources. The training is provided on behalf of the Government of Djibouti. The training familiarizes fishers with fishing technicalities and with fish stock conservation and management principles.

Foreign aid

Much monetary aid is made available from different donor agencies for the development of the fisheries sector in Djibouti. Funds obtained from the African Development Bank have greatly aided the research of fisheries in Djibouti. The Bank has provided a loan for the Djibouti Agriculture Integrated Fisheries Development Project, which has been beneficial for the development of a fishing port and the establishment of a food standards laboratory.

Institutional framework

The fisheries sector in Djibouti is under the authority of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock, in charge of Fisheries Resources. The day-to-day field management of the fisheries sector is the responsibility of the Directorate for Fisheries which consists of two divisions: the Division for the Development of the Fisheries Sector and the Division for the Management of Fisheries Resources.The ministry is structured in such a way that its Fisheries Department is responsible for the management and sustainable development of the sector, its Department of Maritime Affairs is responsible for the registration of fishing vessels, and the Maritime Gendarmerie is responsible for control and surveillance of fishing activities.

Legal frameworkRegional and international legal frameworkDjibouti is a member of the United Nations (UN), the African Union (AU), the East African Community (EAC), Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA), Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and The Regional Organization for the Conservation of the Environment in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden (PERSGA).

Djibouti is a Party to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and in 1996, it became a signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity. It is also a signatory to The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

In addition, Djibouti is Party to: Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, and Wetlands. And in 2013, Djibouti applied for the status of cooperating non-contracting Party to the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC).

To ensure the sustainable development and management of the trans-boundary fisheries resources shared between Djibouti and the adjacent regions, a Draft Agreement for International Cooperation in the Fisheries Sector was signed in 2012 between Djibouti and the Somaliland Region, and between Djibouti and the region of Puntland.



The legislation regulating the Fisheries Sector in Djibouti is the “Code des pêches” or “Fisheries Regulation”. This incorporates a Law adopted in 2002 and an Implementing Decree of the said Law (2007), as well as a 2007 Order on fishing licences. The Fisheries Regulation is to be reviewed with funding from the European Union (EU).The legislation governing the health inspection of fishery products and institutions handling such products is Law No. 142/AN/01/4ème L of 1 October 2001.

The maritime boundaries of the Republic of Djibouti are established by the Law Nº52/AN/78 dated 9 January 1979 regarding the Territorial Waters, the Adjacent Zone and the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

In Djibouti’s territorial waters, commercial fishing is limited to vessels registered in Djibouti or by Djiboutian nationals. The Fisheries Code does not authorize fishing without a licence. Annual licences are issued by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock, and are subject to payment of a fee. The Department of Marine Affairs is responsible for registering fishing vessels.Artisanal fishing is defined in the Fisheries Code as commercial fishing carried out on foot or on vessels without refrigeration equipment, which can remain up to 72 hours at sea during one trip. Three categories of artisanal fishing are set-out and permitted in Djibouti, viz: (i) enhanced artisanal fishing, on vessels measuring over 9 metres; (ii) small-scale artisanal fishing on vessels of up to 9 metres; and (iii) traditional fishing, either on foot or on floating equipment that does not have to be registered. In addition, while Law No. 52/AN/99/4èmeL of 21 August 1999 and Decree No. 2004-0027/PR/MEFPP of 25 February 2004 granted fishing port concession to the Djibouti Maritime Management and Investment Company, Law No. 54/AN/99/4èmeL of 21 August 1999 established and regulates the Djibouti fishing port free zone.

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