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⇧Part I Statistics and main indicators
This section provides statistics and indicators produced through FAO’s Statistics programmes, available by the year reported for the narrative section.
General geographic and economic indicators
Table 1 – General geographic and economic data - Egypt
FAO Fisheries statistics
Table 2a – Fisheries data (i) - Egypt
Table 2b – Fisheries data (ii) – Egypt
Table 2c - General fisheries and aquaculture data - Egypt
1) Excluding aquatic plants
2) Due to roundings total may not add up
* FAO estimates
** Only motorized marine fishing vessels (Medit. and Red Sea)
Updated 2010⇧Part II Narrative
This section provides supplementary information based on national and other sources and valid at the time of compilation. References to these sources are provided as far as possible.
Production sectorEgypt occupies the northeast corner of the African continent. It borders the Mediterranean Sea, between Libya and the Gaza Strip, and the Red Sea, north of Sudan. Egypt includes the Sinai Peninsula, with the Suez and Aqaba Gulfs. The Nile River, with its many irrigation canals, flows through the country. It feeds the lakes of Mariut, Edku and Manzala, the northern lagoons of Port Fouad and Bardawil, the lake Timsah, the Bitter Lakes with the closed lakes (Qarun, Wadi Al Raiyan (1 and 3)) and the great reservoir behind the Aswan High Dam (Lake Nasser). Recently, some small water bodies in the western desert have been re-developed for fish production (Toshka and Natroun valley water bodies).
Capture fisheries in marine and fresh water has a long tradition in Egypt. However, during the last two decades aquaculture production has grown rapidly. In 2003 aquaculture production surpassed capture fishery production in terms of volume of fish produced
Table 3 – Marine, inland and aquaculture production – Egypt (2009)
Table 4 – Marine fisheries - Main species caught – Egypt
Landings from the Red Sea represent about 38 percent of the marine landings and the main fishing ports are Attaka and Salakhana, which are located near Suez, Branies on the Red Sea, El-Tour in South Sinai, beside some small landing sites along the Red Sea.Fishing practices/systemsIn 2008 the Egyptian fishing fleet consisted of 8 227 vessels, of which 4 809 were motorized, 1 725 had sails and 1 693 were recreational boats fishing mostly in the Red Sea. Most of the motorized fleet (41.4 percent) was small wooden craft of less than 10 m in length and powered by inboard or outboard engines of less than 50 hp. Some25.8 percent of the fleet were powered by engines between 50 and 100 hp, 18.6 percent ranged between 100 and 200 hp and 14.3 percent were powered by engines of 200 hp or more. About 2.5 percent were large steel vessels with engines of more than 500 hp. The marine sector employed 89 537 fishermen, of which more than 5 079 categorized in the recreational sector.
There were about 1 267 motorized longline vessels in 2008 (40.5 percent of the Mediterranean gears), while trawlers numbered about 1 095 (35.0 percent), vessels using trammel nets were 529 (16.9 percent) and purse seine vessels were 238 (7.6 percent). The Red Sea fleet included 542 longline vessels (about 32.3 percent of the Red Sea vessels), 846 vessels using trammel nets and other gears (about 50.39 percent), 178 trawlers (about 10.6 percent) and 113 purse seine vessels (about 6.7 percent). The average number of crew on a trawler is from 6 to 27, on a purse seiner the crew number from 5 to 45, while other boats operate with a crew of 5-15 depending on the engine power.
In the Mediterranean the fleet of sail boats consisted of 869 small boats - “grade 3 boats” - (about 63 percent of the sail boats operating in the Mediterranean) and 483 “grade 2 boats” (about 35 percent). In the Red Sea fishermen use “grade 3 sail boats” which numbered 344. “Grade 3 sail boats” are less than 4 meters long, have a crew of not more than 4 and fish mostly during daylight.
Table 5 - Mediterranean and Red Sea fishing vessels in Hp in 2009 – Egypt
Main resourcesMost Egyptian vessels fish in the Mediterranean Sea. Fishermen fish the continental shelf off the Nile Delta and venture to the eastern side of Port Said but rarely west of Alexandria. The continental shelf is at its widest off the central Delta region. The seabed is flat, mostly muddy to sandy, off the middle and eastern coast. Limited grounds for trawling are available on the western coast. Artisanal fishermen exploit inshore areas.
In the Red Sea a long-standing traditional (artisanal) fishery exploits coral reefs spread along the Coast and in the Gulf of Aqaba. Fishing grounds are relatively shallow (maximum 70 m depth). The flat sandy bottoms in the Gulf of Suez are the only area suitable for trawling, while the narrow, reef-rich continental shelf is suitable for artisanal fishing with hook and line or set nets used close to shore.
The Mediterranean fisheries contribute about 60 percent of the marine capture production, while Red Sea fisheries contribute about 40 percent. The Gulf of Suez contributes 14.4 percent of these landings, while catch in the the Gulf of Aqaba is less than 2.1 percent of the Red Sea catches. Only 3.1 percent of marine landings are obtained outside Egyptian territorial waters.Management applied to main fisheries
The General Authority for Fish Resources Development GAFRD strives to achieve responsible fishing by:
Fishermen live mostly in small villages. Most members of the fishermen family are involved in some aspect of fisheries or in transporting, processing and selling the fish.Inland sub-sectorEgypt has more than 10 relatively large lakes, the great reservoir behind the Aswan High Dam (Lake Nasser) and some small water bodies in the western part of the country. Two of the ten lakes (Qarun and Wadi Al Raiyan) have no outlet. These two lakes have brackish water and contain mostly marine species. Fishing in the ten lakes yields about two thirds of the inland catch, while landings from fishing in the Nile River represent about one third.Catch profileInland fisheries yield 14 main species. The four most important species represent about two thirds of the total landings from inland fisheries. They are: tilapia (105 041 tonnes, 40 percent), catfish (40 103 tonnes, 15 percent), grass carp (26 071 tonnes, 10 percent) and mullets (16 575 tonnes, 6 percent)*.
*Figures in parenthesis are the quantity caught in 2008 and the percentage this quantity represents of the total inland capture production.Landing sitesThere is a large number of small boats, about 21 300, being used in inland fisheries. As these boats do not travel far, there is also a large number of landing sites. Along the River Nile there are 695 registered landing sites as well as countless unregistered sites.Fishing practices/systemsOn the River Nile there are about 11 750 small wooden boats, “grade 3”, 4–6 m in length, and about 20 boats “grade 2”, 6 to 8 m in length, and 3 boats “grade 1”, longer than 8 m. In the lake fisheries the corresponding numbers are: 9 581 boats “grade 3”, 61 boats “grade 2” and 547 boats “grade 1”.
Table 6 - Number of un-motorized fishing boats in inland water – Egypt (2008)
Main resourcesRestocking programmes are carried out to support inland fisheries. Since 1932, grey mullets (Mugil spp.), sea bream (Sparus aurata), seabass (Dicentrarchus labrax), sole (Solea vulgaris) and shrimps (Metapenaeus and Penaeus spp.) have been transplanted into the two closed lakes: Qarun and Wadi al Raiyan. Since 1996, other freshwater lakes have also been stocked with fingerlings of freshwater species, e.g. Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) and carp (Cyprinus carpio) produced in public sector hatcheries.Management applied to main fisheries
There are eleven aquaculture cooperatives with about 1 669 members (GAFRD Annual Stat Report, 2009). Cooperatives provide a variety of services to their members. These can be in the form of technical advice, or offering credits for farm operations or representing the interests of the cooperative members in dealings with third parties.
In 2009 aquaculture accounted for 65 percent of all fish produced in Egypt, or 705 000 tonnes, with an estimated value of USD 1.25 billion. Of these about 85 percent (597 811 tonnes) were obtained from semi-intensive culture technology employed in brackish water. About 10 percent (68 049 tonnes) came from cage culture in fresh water and about 5 percent (37 700 tonnes) from rice-fish culture. The contribution of intensive fish farms to production is low. In 2008 it reached less than one percent, at 1 860 tonnes. Aquaculture in brackish water, which contributed 85 percent to the total production in 2009, is far more important than freshwater aquaculture. In comparison with their freshwater counterparts, aquaculture of marine species is still in an early stage of development.
Tilapia is the dominant species. It accounts for more than half of all fish produced through aquaculture. In 2009 about 390 300 tonnes were produced. Tilapia is followed in importance by mullets and together these two species contributed 85.1 percent of total aquaculture production. Other important species, or species groups, include carps (Cyprinids, mainly common carp and grass carp, 10.5 percent) and catfishes (Clarias spp, 2.5 percent).
The European sea bass and gilthead seabream have been the principal species used in marine aquaculture starting in the 1990s. The production of these two species peaked at 18 900 tonnes in 2000. Since then production has declined substantially. However, production recovered in 2009 to reach 10 700 tonnes. In 2008 a remarkable development occurred as the culture of meagre (Argyrosomus regius), took off and reached 2 000 tonnes. With the exception of Penaeus shrimp, crustaceans are not cultured in Egypt. Farming of Penaeus shrimp was started in the new millennium but the production has been unstable. It reached 3 300 tonnes in 2005, but declined dramatically to 131 tonnes in 2008.
Table 7 - Cultured species - Egypt (2009)
Egypt is the eleventh largest aquaculture producer in the world by quantity in 2008 and the largest in Africa, accounting for 73.8 percent of aquaculture in Africa by volume and for 64.2 percent by value. In 2008, Egypt produced 13.8 percent of the world’s cultured tilapias. In addition, Egypt is the world's top producer of cultured mullets. The recent development of meagre culture in Egypt has meant that the global output of cultured meagre increased from less than 1 000 tonnes in 2007 to 3 800 tonnes in 2008.
Annual production from aquaculture increased by more than 10 times between 1990 and 2008, at an average annual growth rate of 14.4 percent. A high level of average annual growth rate of 18.4 percent was observed from 1990 to 1999, but the annual growth rate has declined to 9.3 percent between 2000 and 2008.Recreational sub-sectorThe Marine Inspection Department is authorized to issue permits for recreational fishing in the Red Sea. In 2008 close to 1 700 motorized recreational boats had such permits. On the average these boats go to sea more than 280 days/year. The tourists who fish from them use only longlines. There are no accurate data about recreational fishing in the Mediterranean.
Post-harvest sectorFish utilizationVirtually all fish produced in Egypt becomes human food. Local fish meal production is negligible. It appears that the demand for fish as food in fact keeps prices at quay-side above what local fishmeal manufacturers can afford to pay. Most fish is consumed fresh, but also chilled and frozen fish is common in retail markets.Fish marketsThere are four main wholesale markets in Egypt: the Obour “in Cairo governorate”, October “in October governorate”, Tanta “in Gharbia governorate” and Suez in “Suez governorate”. They function as centers for distributing fish to retail markets, supermarkets, fish stores and local markets, in every town and village that does not have direct access to a fish landing centre.
Socio-economic contribution of the fishery sectorRole of fisheries in the national economyIn 2002 agriculture production was valued to USD 18.6 billion. Of this amount plant production totaled USD 10.7 billion, animal production USD 6.5 billion and fish production represented about USD 1.4 billion. (GAFRD annual stat report 2004).
Table 8 - Egypt - Value of agriculture and fish production in Egypt in 2002
Supply and demand
By 2008 the rapid increase in aquaculture production has made it possible for Egyptians to eat about double the amount of seafood they ate 20 years earlier. During the same period imports fluctuated, while exports were insignificant in terms of quantities.This means that during the period local supplies occupied a growing share of local consumption, increasing from about 75 percent in 1988-1991 to slightly over 80 percent in the 2000s.
Canned sardines are produced and sold locally. Tilapias and mullets are more readily accepted in the market than carps. Domestic supplies are supplemented by substantial imports (136 800 tonnes, 2008) of fish frozen whole or in fillets. Salted and smoked products are also imported.
Demand for fish per person and year approximately doubled from 1988 to 2008. Although the fishing industry has only a relatively minor role in the Egyptian economy, domestic fish production makes a valuable contribution to the national food supply in addition to facilitating a traditional way of life, in which consumption of fish plays an important part. Capture fisheries is also a significant supplier of food to the tourist industry. In some cases, fishermen (especially in the Red Sea) sell fresh fish directly to restaurants or hotels. TradeIn 1997 the combined value of internationally traded fish reached the equivalent of about 135.37 million USD; in 2008 this increased to about 378.73 million USD.
Table 9 - Value and volume of fish imports and exports from 1988 to 2008 – Egypt
2) Product weightFood securityFish is a traditional and important component of the Egyptian diet. People prefer fish to poultry and red meat, which are more expensive. Fish is the main source of cheap animal protein for a growing population. Most of the catch is consumed fresh, sold through retail markets. Fresh fish is distinctly preferred by consumers over frozen fish. However, the cold storage infrastructure is improving and a large section of the imported fish is frozen. This has meant that frozen fish is increasingly being accepted by the Egyptian consumer. Salted fish is traditionally eaten during certain holidays. However, it is expected that the quantity of salted fish will decline as internal transport and marketing improves. At present, salted fish is common in locations distant from landing sites. Sardines and mullets are commonly supplied in salted form in these areas.EmploymentThere about 250 thousand fishermen working in capture fisheries. In aquaculture there are about 750 thousand individuals, including men, women and children, directly employed. A further 12 thousand labors are engaged during harvesting and other periods of intensive activities.
In addition the sector generates employment in fish processing, transport, retailing, boat and net manufacturing.Rural developmentFishermen communities dot the long Mediterranean and Red Sea coasts, as well as the shores of the river Nile and the major inland lakes. Fisheries provide livelihoods for fishermen and their families. Most of their children help in transport, processing and selling of the fish. Those who live in communities where aquaculture is practiced help during the harvest season.
Trends, issues and developmentConstraints and opportunitiesMost fishers are artisanal, and operate gillnets, trammel nets and longlines from boat that are smaller than 12 m LOA. They fish the coastal shelf and catch a wide variety of demersal species. Larger vessels of medium size (12-24 m LOA) and larger (>24 m LOA) use bottom trawls and purse seines.
The Government’s ability to manage these fisheries suffers because there is relatively little knowledge both about the fisheries themselves and about the status of fish and shellfish resources. Fisheries data is regularly collected but it varies much in terms of coverage, nature, and quality. Thus the catch (landings) statistics are sometimes unreliable as are the data on fleet characteristics. There are almost no statistical data on fishing effort. Detailed socio-economic data are virtually non-existent.
Fisheries management is difficult also because the institutional framework is weak. The legal framework and the means for implementing adequate monitoring, control and surveillance need to be improved, which in turn may lead to a more effective industry participation in management. In addition, the Fisheries Department has too few well-trained staff. Many of the fishery officers need to be trained or re-trained in specific fields of fishery science, including socio-economics. In the field, staff employed in collecting landings data need to improve their ability to correctly identify species.
The lack of practical international cooperation in fishery research and management makes it difficult to carry out joint efforts effectively and to organize information exchange at both the scientific and management levels. There is no established network of fishery experts in the sub-region.
GAFRD’s strategy is to reach an Egyptian production of about 1.2 million ton a year from capture fisheries and aquaculture by 2017. It is recognized that for this to be possible the following must happen:
Some research is undertaken by the Ministry of Agriculture, General Authority for Fish Resources Development (GAFRD). However, most fisheries research in Egypt is carried out by the National Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries (NIOF), which has some 1 500 staff, of which 400 are researchers and/or research assistants. Its research covers living resources (fish biology, stock monitoring and assessment, fish technology, aquaculture, fishery statistics and economics, and pollution monitoring and control), limnology and physical oceanography. NIOF, with headquarters in Cairo (http://www.niof.sci.eg/), has a number of stations located at different Egyptian water bodies. It also carries out ecological and fisheries surveys along the country’s Mediterranean and Red Sea coasts and in different inland water bodies. It is undertaking a programme of resource evaluation, in particular an evaluation of the pelagic stocks, using echo-sounder techniques. Research is carried out by boats using mid-water trawls as a gear for catching pelagic species.
Some basic fisheries and aquaculture research is undertaken in a few university departments, inter alia at: (i) the Oceanography Department, University of Alexandria; (ii) the Marine Biology Department, Suez Canal University; (iii) the Oceanography Department, Al Azhar University; and (iv) the Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport (AASTMT), Alexandria.Education and trainingA large number of secondary agriculture schools, institutes, faculties and universities spread throughout Egypt have curricula that include fisheries and aquaculture. Courses lead to diploma and master's degrees.
GAFRD offers training courses in aquaculture development. Seminars and workshops on a variety of topics are provided throughout the year. Specialized training programmes are also provided. In support of its educational programme GAFRD yearly prepares and distributes free of charge brochures providing salient facts about fisheries and aquaculture. GFARD also sponsors the attendance of officers and technicians in foreign capture fisheries and aquaculture training courses, seminars and workshops.Foreign aidUSAID has contributed funds for fisheries development with a focus on increasing fish production. The first project –Food Production from Freshwater Ecosystem – was carried out in the Wadi Al Raiyan Lakes. A second project, centered on the South Eastern Mediterranean Sea, studied trophic level dynamics.
JICA has helped to modernize and develop the fishing harbor at Maddea and also supported development of the fisheries in Lake Nasser. UNDP has funded environmental projects active in Manzala and in the Burollus Lakes.
PERSGA (The Regional Organization for the Conservation of the Environment of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden) helps promote sustainable use of living marine resource of the Red Sea.
Institutional frameworkIn the Ministry of Agriculture, the General Authority for Fish Resources Development (GAFRD) is the only branch of government that may draft fisheries and aquaculture legislation, renew or issue new: (i) licences for fishing vessels (ii) licences for fishing, and (iii) leases for land holding aquaculture farms. It monitors and regulates transportation of fry and fingerlings between hatcheries and aquaculture farms. It signs international treaties dealing with capture fisheries and aquaculture.
The Authority undertakes its tasks from its headquarters, working through 7 regional offices.
The Co-operative Union of Aquatic Resources deals with fishers´ and aquaculturists´ social and economic conditions. The National Institute for Oceanography and Fisheries (NIOF) is the leading research institution for the study of marine ecology, hydrology, biology, fishing effort and fish stocks.
In addition, the Egyptian Coast Guard and the Ministry of the Environment deal with fishery issues.
Legal frameworkThe General Authority for Fish Resources Development (GAFRD) was established by the presidential decree 190/1983 as a part of the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation. With the exception of Lake Nasser, GAFRD is responsible for the development and management of fishery resources including aquaculture as designated by law 124 of 1983 with the responsibility of issuing fishing licences, supervising fishery cooperatives, collecting fry from collecting stations, re-distributing them in inland lakes (like Qarun and Rayaan), produce statistical information on fish production, consumption and trade. In addition, it provides technical support to private farms whenever needed and manages fisheries and aquaculture in accordance with Law 124 of 1983.
The legal regime gives GAFRD a strong mandate to support aquaculture development. The Authority has the right to lease out lands that are within 200 meters of sea and lakeshores for the purpose of creating fish farms. GAFRD operates several fish hatcheries and feed mills that support the national aquaculture development. It encourages investments in aquaculture, especially marine aquaculture.
The main articles related to aquaculture in law 124 are those specifying the type of water and land to be used. Hatcheries are the only aquaculture units that are allowed to be first users of fresh water. Fish farms can use only non-agriculture land and brackish water. The Law prohibits gathering, transferring or possessing fish fry from any water body without the written consent of GAFRD. The Law also specifies the licensing procedures for constructing aquaculture enterprises. An approval is required from the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation. This approval defines the volume and source of water and the method of drainage. An approval from the Shores Protection Authority, Ministry of Tourism, and Ministry of Environmental Affairs is required for the construction and operation of marine fish farms.
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FAO Thematic data bases
FAO Fisheries statistics