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Part I Overview and main indicators

  1. Country brief
  2. General geographic and economic indicators

Part II Narrative (2014)

  1. Production sector
    • Marine sub-sector
      • Catch profile
      • Landing sites
      • Fishing practices/systems
      • Main resources
      • Management applied to main fisheries
      • Fishing communities
    • Inland sub-sector
      • Catch profile
      • Landing sites
      • Fishing practices/systems
      • Main resources
      • Management applied to main fisheries
      • Fishing communities
    • 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 brief

Prepared: 2014

Sudan is one of the largest countries in Africa with an area of 1 861 500 km². The contribution of fisheries to the GDP is currently marginal. However, Sudan is endowed with water resources and lands that can support vigorous capture fisheries and aquaculture.

Sudan’s capture fisheries production was estimated to be about 34 000 tonnes in 2012, 29 000 tonnes from inland water catches and 5 000 from marine catches. The aquaculture sector is still incipient and the annual production was estimated at 2 000 tonnes in 2012. Capture fisheries activities are centered around the River Nile and its tributaries, seasonal flood plains and four major reservoirs as well as the territorial waters of Sudan on the Red Sea. Freshwater fish culture is primarily based on the pond culture of the Nile tilapia Oreochromis niloticus.

The country is also dependant on imports of fish and fishery products (USD 5.2 million in 2012) to satisfy the limited per capita fish consumption (about 1.1 kg in 2012). Exports are very small and were valued at USD 0.2 million in 2012.

The institutions directly involved in fisheries management are the Federal Ministry of Animal Resources and Fisheries and its Fisheries Administration, the Fisheries Training Institute (Ministry of Animal Resources and Fisheries) and the Fisheries Research Centre (Ministry of Science and Technology). Following independence in July 2011 the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) with ten states, was established, which includes a Ministry of Animal Resources and Fisheries of South Sudan and a Fisheries Training Center in Padak (Jonglei State).

Although there is potential for increasing inland fish production, inland fisheries have remained at a subsistence level due, in part, to 21 years of conflict which have led to prolonged isolation of fishing communities and disrupted trade and supply channels.

Other problems and constraints include the lack of or inadequate fisheries policies and management, laws and regulations, monitoring and statistics, infrastructure and institutions, investments and financing, capacity and training, processing and marketing.

Sudan became Party to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in January 1985.

Sudan is a member of the Committee on Fisheries (COFI) and two FAO regional fishery bodies: the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) and the Committee for Inland Fisheries of Africa (CIFA). It also participates in INFOSAMAK, the Centre for Marketing Information and Advisory Services for Fishery Products in the Arab Region. Importantly, Sudan has offered to lead the process toward the establishment of a fisheries commission for the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.
General geographic and economic indicators

Table 1 - Sudan -General Geographic and Economic indicators

Marine water area (including the EEZ) 91 600 km2 ftp://ftp.fao.org/FI/DOCUMENT/fcp/en/FI_CP_SD.pdf
Shelf area 22 300 km2 Ibid.
Length of continental coastline 853 km Ibid.
Fisheries GDP (year) n/a  

(1) 24% of USD 58.77 = USD 14.1 billion

Key statistics

Population - Est. & Proj.NaNmillions
Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) area63 012km2VLIZ
GDP (current US$)117 488millionsWorld Bank. 2017
GDP per capita (current US$)2 899US$World Bank. 2017
Agriculture, forestry, and fishing, value added30.45% of GDPWorld Bank. 2017

Source: FAO Country Profile

Updated 2014Part 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 sectorThe year 2011 marked a watershed in the history of the united Sudan and its entire economy, including fisheries, when South Sudan seceded on 9 July of that year. The fisheries of the Sudan, post South Sudan secession, are as vast as they are dynamic despite the country’s loss of substantial inland waters as a result of the separation exercise.

Located in northeastern Africa, with a current population of 37.2 million (2), the Sudan is bordered to the south by South Sudan, to the east by Ethiopia and Eritrea, to the northeast by the Red Sea, to the north by Egypt, to the northwest by Libya, to the west by Chad, and to the southwest by the Central African Republic, all seven countries and waters with varying amounts of fisheries resources.

The River Nile, with the confluence of the White Nile and the Blue Nile at Khartoum, is the most prominent inland geographic feature of the Sudan. The waters of these rivers, as well as of the numerous other aquatic habitats within the territorial borders of the Sudan have tremendous fisheries resources. These fisheries have been characterized by their slow expansion over the recent past. Their most significant characteristic is the dearth of comprehensive statistical data coverage and of skilled and experienced workforce.

The Sudan’s fisheries sector is known to have a rich resource base, and is mainly derived from the following diverse waters:
  • Offshore waters
  • Inshore waters
  • The Blue Nile
  • The White Nile
  • Other inland waters, including other rivers, tributaries and floodplains
  • Lakes
  • Wetlands
  • Man-made reservoirs designed for water supply, irrigation and electricity generation
The major fishing locations are the Nile (Blue and White), the Gebel Aulia Reservoir, the Roseires Reservoir, the Sennar Reservoir, the Khashm El Girba Reservoir, Lake Nubia, and the Red Sea. While the Red Sea is the nerve centre of the Sudan’s marine fisheries, inland fisheries are undertaken in all the rivers, reservoirs and lakes.

The Sudan’s fisheries are multi-faceted and may be divided into three main sectors, viz: subsistence, artisanal and commercial. Subsistence fishing, using basic methods such as the spear, traps, cast-nets, and hook and line, either from river banks or from canoes and papyrus rafts, is practised mainly in the inland waters of Sudan. Artisanal fisheries, where the fisher typically operates a traditionally-designed one-oar-propelled boat and which sometimes goes hand-in-hand with subsistence fishing, is undertaken mainly on the Jebel Aulia Reservoir as well as downstream the White Nile before the confluence at Khartoum. Motorized boats are employed in the commercial marine fishery which, though still largely underdeveloped, is carried out by some relatively well-off fishers and fisherfolk associations such as the cooperative societies.(3)

Aquaculture is in its early developmental stage but has enormous potential to engender an upward paradigm shift in the national fish production level. Similarly, the recreational fishery remains currently underdeveloped.

(2) www.tradingeconomics.com/sudan/populationSee also: data.worldbank.org/country/sudan

Marine sub-sectorThe Sudan’s marine fishery may be classified as follows: offshore, inshore industrial and coastal artisanal fisheries. The inshore waters, which lie from five nautical miles off the coast up to the edge of the continental shelf area, are exceptionally rich in resources and have a very active fishery.

Port Sudan is the Sudan’s gateway to the sea and the country’s terrestrial epicentre for both marine capture fisheries and mariculture. While Sudan has a total coastline of 853 km, and a continental shelf area of 22 300 km2, its territorial rights on the Red Sea extend to an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 91 600 km2. These waters are rich in fisheries resources and also possess abundant coral populations. They have the following fundamental characteristics:
  • Weak currents
  • Weak tides (30–60cm)
  • Absence of the upwelling phenomenon, in spite of which the waters are rich in fishery resources, though to a lesser scope and scale than other seas where upwellings occur.
  • High annual water temperature of between 20oC in February and up to 33oC in August
  • Absence of perennial river-and freshwater runoff into the sea, with the notable exception of the seasonal flow from Baraka River which forms the Towker Delta in the south, as well as seasonal coastal rainwater runoffs and transient khors (streams).
The biological resources of the Sudan’s offshore waters between the shelf area and the 200 nautical mile EEZ have been considerably tapped, though not to their full capacity. Expansion in fishery exploitation is, however, bound to remain on the increase as more pressure is exerted on the fishery by market forces. Indicative of this trend is the observation that over the years an increasing number of fishing vessels, of greater deadweight tonnage, have been registered to operate on the Red Sea territory of the Sudan.(4)

The fishing zones within the Sudan’s EEZ are as follows:
  • bays, inlets and messas, comprising water bodies which extend inland for 1–5 km;
  • coastal boat channels which extend inshore for up to one kilometre;
  • the fringing reefs which run parallel to the coast at a distance of 1–2 nautical miles;
  • the deep boat channel which harbours Aprion spp. and sharks;
  • outer barrier reefs within the continental edge; and
  • the pelagic zone of over 300 fathoms (549 metres).

(4) www.acpfish2-eu.org/index.php?page=sudan

Catch profileThe target production resources of the artisanal marine fishery of Sudan are:
  • finfish (both bony and cartilaginous);
  • crustaceans, especially shrimps and prawns;
  • molluscs, with particular emphasis on mother-of pearl oysters; and
  • sea cucumber (Echinoidea).
On the other hand, the commercial marine fishery, using trawlers, purse seiners and mechanized craft, focuses on pelagic and dermersal finfish, as well as on shrimp resources.The artisanal finfish fishery, targeting such species as mullet, Epinephelus areolatus, Lutjanus bohar, Scomberomorus commerson, is the most significant marine fishery, followed by the trawl finfish fishery, and next, the wild mollusc fishery, followed closely by the shrimp fishery, while shark fishery, the sea cucumber fishery and the sardine fishery are remarkably negligible.

A total marine catch of 5 700 tonnes was recorded in 2009.
Landing sitesThe marine fish catch is taken to landing sites and fishing villages which are scattered along the coast of the Red Sea. Table 3 shows the major fish landing sites and villages, with their relative catch importance; they have been divided into geographic zones for ease of administration.

Table 3 – the Sudan – The major marine fishing areas, their characteristics and percentage catch importance

Fishing zone Site Characteristic Total catch %
SOUTH Nawarat Khor (water course) 40
  Khalafia (Ras Abbas) Fish landing site / village  
  Ageing Fish landing site / village  
  Ras Asees Fish landing site  
  Trikitat Fish landing site / village  
  Ashat Fish landing site / village  
  Takrinyay Fish landing site / village  
  Sheihk Saad Fish landing site / village  
  Sheihk Ibrahim Fish landing site / village  
  Heidoub Khor / fish landing site  
  Hidi (Houb) Khor / fish landing site  
CENTRAL Sawakin / Osman Digna Port, for passengers and cargo 20
  Antabeeb Fish landing site / village  
  Damat Fish landing site / village  
  Ein Harees Oil export / Free Zone  
  Housheri Free Zone  
  Kewi Fish landing site  
  Ata Fish landing site  
  Ameed Fish landing site  
  Port Sudan Main Port / Town  
  Flamengo Vessel stopover  
  Haloot Village  
  Al Ragaba Tourist village  
  Darour Village  
  Arous Tourist village  
  Fiega Fish landing site  
  Arkyay Village  
  Salak El Sageer Fish landing site  
  Salak El Kabeer Fish landing site  
NORTH Takfial Fish landing site 40
  Sheihk accod Fish landing site  
  Mohammed Goal Fish port / village  
  Dongunab Bay / village  
  Dalaw Fish landing site / village  
  Shanaab Bay  
  Ooseif Port / village  
  Halaib Port / village  
  Abu Ramad Village  
  Shlatain Village  

With a respective harvest of 40 percent each of the total marine catch, both the South and North Fisheries Administrative Zones contribute more than the Central Zone which lands only 20 percent of the total marine catch.
Fishing practices/systemsIn the marine artisanal fishery of the Sudan, fishers embark on fishing mainly with the use of traditional gear such as pole and line, longline, castnets, gillnets and beach seines. Fishing methods are also largely traditional in nature, and so are the fishing craft which include houris (dugout canoes), sambouk (launches), as well as felucca (wooden and steel boats). While most of the houris are powered by either wooden oars or bamboo poles, the sambouks and feluccas are motorized with inboard or outboard engines. Also, there are few relatively large wooden and steel-hulled trawlers which are engaged in limited, seasonal activities.

The marine industrial fishery, though largely seasonal in nature, is undertaken principally with the use of purse seiners and trawlers, the target catch being mainly shrimp, threadfin bream, lizard fish and goat fish.

Presented below, Table 4 indicates the Sudan’s trawling area coverage of the Red Sea, which amounts to 71 000 hectares.(5)

Table 4 – the Sudan – Red Sea area trawling coverage

Trawling Site Area (ha)
Delta Toaker 29 500
Gulf of Agieg 6 500
Mesa Mogadam 3 000
Khor Nawarat 2 000
Other small areas 30 000
Total 71 000

(5) ftp://ftp.fao.org/FI/DOCUMENT/fcp/en/FI_CP_SD.pdf,p.6, line 21.

Main resourcesThe Sudanese marine fishery is largely coastal in nature and employs mainly traditional gear, traditional craft such as papyrus rafts and dugout canoes, and traditional harvesting techniques, whereas the marine commercial fishers use purse seiners and small- and medium-size trawlers to exploit the resources within and beyond the continental shelf area. Fish landings are generally dominated by teleosteic and cartilaginous species, including sharks, anchovy, tuna, sea bream, and snapper, as well as by crustaceans and molluscs including cephalopods.

Of the numerous multispecies stocks, the cartilaginous fish fauna is of the order of 49 species, with sharks constituting about 57 percent of the stock. The most significant cartilaginous species are presented in table 5, below.

Table 5 – the Sudan –The major cartilaginous species of the Red Sea

Common name Scientific Name
Thresher Shark Alopias vulpinus
Rusty Shark Ginglymostoma ferrugineum, syn. Nebrius ferrugineus
Tiger Shark Galeocerda cuvier
Smooth dogfish Mustelus canis
Dog Shark Scoliodon palasorrah, syn. Rhizoprionodon acutus

For marine teleosts, about 280 species have been recorded in the Red Sea catch, 70 percent of which comprise the following: Epinephelus areolatus, Lutjanus bohar, L. gibbus, Lethrinus spp., Caranx spp., Plectropomus maculatus, Scomberomorus commerson, Mugil spp. and Aprion spp.

Shrimps constitute the bulk of the harvest of crustaceans which are caught in the Sudan’s marine waters. Peneaus semisulcatus, Peneaus latisulcatus, and Metapeneaus monocerus are the most remarkable shrimp species which are caught from the fishing grounds of Toker Delta, Gulf of Agieg, Mesa Mogadam, Khor Nawarat, etc.

Mother-of–pearl oysters (Pinctada margaritifera, Trochus dentatus, Strombus spp. and Lambia spp.) are the principal molluscs which are harvested for the European market where they are used for button production, inlay work and cosmetics.

Other living marine resources which are occasionally exploited in the Sudan’s territorial marine waters are: sea cucumber (Echinoidea); mammals such as Dugong dugon, and three species of dolphin, namely the common dolphin (Dolphinus dolphin), the Bottlenose (Tursiops truncatus), and the humpback (Sousa plumbea); sea turtles, such as the green turtle (Chelonia mydas) and the hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata); seaweeds, including Halophila ovalis, H. stipulacea, Halodule uninervis and Thalassia hemprichii; and mangrove plant (Avicennia marina).

Furthermore, coral reef formations abound in the Red Sea where divers exploit the three known types of coral reefs, namely, fringing reefs, barrier reefs and atolls.
Management applied to main fisheriesThe Sudan currently places emphasis on the management of the following capture fisheries: the finfish fishery, shellfish fishery, shrimp fishery, and to a lesser extent on sea cucumber and marine environmental conservation.Management objectivesThe main goals and objectives of the government in this regard are to:
  • rationally utilize and conserve marine living resources;
  • protect the marine environment from pollution and ecological degradation;
  • promote investment;
  • develop rural communities;
  • improve fish distribution and marketing;
  • coordinate efforts for integrated coastal management at the national, regional and international levels.

Management measures and institutional arrangements

The following management measures apply in principle, though with a checkered implementation, to the Sudanese fisheries:

Management Measures – Technical

  • Regulation of fishing access: local fishers and fishing craft are licensed, and special permits are issued to foreign vessels which are contracted to Sudanese counterparts.
  • Mesh regulation: standard mesh sizes are recommended for fishing gear, and routine checks are performed for enforcement.
  • Banning of improper fishing methods: explosives, poisons and spear guns are prohibited in fishing.
  • Increase of fishers’ capacity: training, extension services, improvement of fishing boats, establishment of boat and engine maintenance workshops, and supply of essential services, are periodically undertaken.
  • Closed areas: fishing is forbidden in Sanganab atoll which is designated as a marine park. Oyster farming, small-scale fishing and wild oyster collection are banned in Dongonab Bay which is also a conservation national park.
  • Closed seasons: fishing is disallowed on shrimp grounds during the breeding season between mid-March and mid-August.

Management Measures – Input Control

  • Fishing gear and craft are registered
  • Initial approval and specifications approval are required for fishing gear and craft

Management Measures – Output Control

  • A total allowable catch (TAC) of finfish and shrimps by foreign contracted vessels is prescribed.
  • There is no recommended fish quota for artisanal vessels.

Management Measures – Economic Incentives

  • Incentives for private sector fishing companies are enshrined in the Encouragement of Investment Act.
  • Local fishers benefit from credit schemes with beneficial repayment terms.

Fishing communitiesA total of 2 300 fishers, made up of 1 500 part-time and 800 full-time, were involved in coastal marine fisheries in 2009. Most of these fishers, who are of diverse ethnicities, belong to various fisherfolk associations and trade unions, including Refugees Cooperative Society (Sawakin), Ausheri Fishers’ Union, East Coast Fishermen Union, Red Sea Boat Owners Union for Marine Products, and Mohammed Goal Fishermen Association.
Inland sub-sectorThe White Nile, the Blue Nile, their tributaries, and the five man-made lakes of Gebel Aulia, Roseires, Khashm El Girba, Sennar and Nubia, are the main inland fishing areas of the Sudan. A substantial part of the Nile, which at 6 700 kilometres is the world’s longest river, flows through the Sudan which has the largest size of the total basin area of the river.(6)

Whereas, the fisheries of the Roseires, Sennar and Khashm El Girba are at their full exploitation levels, the Gebel Aulia fishery is already overstretched, while Lake Nubia remains largely underexploited. The fisheries are becoming increasingly commercialized, however, with investors operating fishing fleets of simple vessels, even though fishing techniques and craft employed in the inland fishery remain largely artisanal in nature.

(6) www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_politics_in_the_Nile_Basin

Catch profileThe exploitation patterns for the inland subsector of the Sudanese fisheries are as varied as the inland waters themselves are diversified. The five man-made lakes which are located within the network of the River Nile and its tributaries together sustain a fish production capacity of some 23 700 tonnes per year.(7)

(7) ftp://ftp.fao.org/FI/DOCUMENT/fcp/en/FI_CP_SD.pdf, p.11.

Landing sitesApart from the main Nile River, the Gebel Aulia Reservoir on the White Nile, the Roseires Reservoir and Sennar Reservoir on the Blue Nile, the Khashm El Girba Reservoir along the River Atbara, and Lake Nubia on the River Nile, are all man-made lakes and constitute important freshwater landing sites with substantial capture fishery capabilities. Khors (streams), haffirs (natural or man-made rainwater impoundments) and irrigation canals are the other water bodies in which fishing also takes place.

The basic characteristics of the reservoirs are given in Table 6.

Table 6– the Sudan – Basic characteristics of the five man-made lakes in the Nile network(8)



Gebel Aulia Lake Nubia Roseires Sennar Khashm El Girba
River basin White Nile River Nile Blue Nile Blue Nile River Atbara
Year opened 1937 1964 1966 1925 1964
Surface area (km2) 600-1 500 830-1 144 290 140-160 125
Total length (km) 629 180 75 - 99
Max. depth (m) 12 25 68 26 10
Fish potential (t/y) 15 000 5 100 1 700 1 100 800
No. of fish species 56 43 22 22 15

(8) Data extracted from, ftp://ftp.fao.org/FI/DOCUMENT/fcp/en/FI_CP_SD.pdf, p.11, Table 8.
Fishing practices/systemsExtensive artisanal fishing by both regular and seasonal fishers is conducted in all inland waters of the Sudan. The fishers employ mainly traditional craft, including oar-powered papyrus rafts and poled dugout canoes to exploit the fish resources. For the commercial fishery, motorized steel vessels and planked boats are used. Companies and major fish traders employ insulated trucks and iceboxes to deliver catch to the market. Fishing gear in use in inland fisheries include traditional traps, spear, longlines, hook-and-line, drifting gillnets, beach seines and trammel nets.Main resourcesMore than 100 species of fish are known in the freshwaters of the Sudan. Below is a table indicating the numbers of these species and the families to which they belong.

Table 7 – the Sudan – The freshwater fish species and their respective number of species

S/no. Family No. of species S/no. Family No. of species
1 Propteridae 1 10 Cyprinidae 25
2 Polypteridae 3 11 Bagridae 7
3 Angullidae 1 12 Schilbeidae 6
4 Osteoglossidae 1 13 Amphillidae 1
5 Notopteridae 1 14 Claridae 8
6 Mormyridae 15 15 Malapteruridae 1
7 Gymnarchidae 1 16 Mochochidae 15
8 Cromeridae 1 17 Cyprinodontidae 3
9 Characidae 9 18 Poecillidae 1

The Sudanese freshwater fish landing is dominated by the following species: Gymnarchus sp., Heterotis spp., Citharinus spp., Clarias spp., Lates niloticus, Tilapia spp., Labeo spp., Alestes spp., Distichodus spp., Barbus binny, Bagrus spp., and the family Schilbeidae.
Management applied to main fisheriesThe strategies employed by the Fisheries Administration of the Ministry of Animal Resources in the management of the inland waters of the Sudan are highlighted below:

Goals and objectives

  • Establishment and sustenance of a thriving fisheries industry;
  • Strengthening of research capabilities and improvement of administrative efficiency;
  • National investment promotion;
  • Improvement of the socio-economic status of fishers;
  • Dissemination of information to stakeholders;
  • Increase in fish production;
  • Improvement of quality of fish and fish products;
  • Enhancement of fish marketing;
  • Coordination of efforts with relevant national and international institutions and agencies;

Management Measures – Technical

  • Regulation of fishing access: Full-time fishers and fishing vessels are registered and issued with a licence which must be renewed annually;
  • Mesh regulation: The mesh size of fishing nets is regulated by the fisheries ordinance, depending on the target species. Sporadic checks are often carried out to enforce this regulation;
  • Banning of improper fishing gear and methods: Monofilament silk nets are forbidden, so also are fishing by electrocution, dynamites and poisonous substances;
  • Closed areas: None is put in place;
  • Closed season: In principle, closed seasons are stipulated, depending on stock availability;
  • Increase of fishers’ capacity: This is achieved through training of the fisherfolk, extension services, and improvement of fishing gear and craft;
  • Alternative and new fisheries: Cage culture of tilapia introduced on a limited scale in Gebel Aulia Reservoir. Also, experimental fish trawling has been embarked upon in Lake Nubia;

Management measures – Input control

  • The number of fishing vessels operating in any given area is controlled by way of licensing;
  • Prior permit and adherence to prescribed specifications required for import of fishing twine, nets and craft.

Management Measures – Output Control

  • No strict measures are put in place to control allowable catch in the different reservoirs, thus giving rise to serious signs of overfishing which has been observed in certain sites such as the northern zone of Gel Aulia Reservoir;
  • The fishing legislation prohibits catch of undersized fish. The captured fish is confiscated in the event of violation, and a tougher punishment is handed out to repeat offenders.

Management Measures – Economic Incentives

  • The Encouragement of Investment Act encourages development projects through, inter alia, the following provisions:
  • Exemption from the business profit tax for a period of up to five years;
  • Remittance of profits and costs of finance, resulting from foreign capital, or loan in the currency in which the capital or loan is imported, at the best declared exchange rate, by the due date;
  • Allocation of land on favourable terms
  • Some fishing gear and craft to be supplied to fishers on installmental and rental payment conditions;
  • There are no fish price limits, thus allowing market forces to determine demand and supply levels;
  • Bank loans to be given to qualified investors.

Fishing communitiesAbout 26 000 fishers, consisting of 20 000 full-time and 6 000 part-time individuals, participated in the Sudanese inland fishing operations in 2009. Though dominated by Arab tribespersons, the fishery has fishers of other ethnic groups involved in it. All these diverse peoples inhabiting the same fishing community, therefore, give rise to a strong culture-mix and a blend of different ethno-social backgrounds and fishing skills. These fishers, especially the artisans who occupy the lower rungs of the socio-economic ladder, are often disparaged by the relatively well-placed elements of the larger society. Generally, the fishing communities lack proper organizational structures, though some well-organized and efficient-running fisher groups are known to exist in both White Nile State and Khartoum State.
Aquaculture sub-sectorAquaculture, in its constituent entity of both mariculture and freshwater fish farming, is undertaken in the Sudan and has great potential to drastically boost the over-all national fish production, though a harvest of only 2 000 tonnes was recorded in 2010. And, only 140 jobs were created by the subsector in 2009.

Maricultural activities are undertaken within the continental shelf area of the Red Sea, off the coast of Port Sudan. And, whereas mainly oyster cultivation is carried out in the sea, finfish farming largely takes place in the freshwater system.

Mariculture has its origin in the Sudan in 1905 when an experimental farm for the mother-of-pearl oyster (Pinctada margaritifera) was established in Dongonab Bay. With the trial being then successful, family farms based on the bottom-culture technique, and producing oyster shells for export, soon sprang up.

The Sudanese marine waters are renowned for their great potential for oyster resources. The Sawakin archipelago and the Dongonab Bay present the best fertile grounds for spat collection. Oyster culture is undertaken in coastal areas of the northern zone of the Sudanese Red Sea, and almost all pearl culture production farms are based in Um El-Sheihk Island and environs.

The remaining mariculture techniques are the bottom-and off-bottom oyster culture in shallow coastal waters, and some land-based shrimp cultivation. The three stages of culture operation are spat collection, nursery, and rearing to market size. The breeding of oysters and other molluscs takes place during the summer months, between June and July. A culture cycle duration of about three years is required to produce oyster shells of market–acceptable size.

So as to reduce stress on the natural oyster population and boost a steady production, oyster cultivation has been encouraged but this has yielded less than the desired results in production levels. Major contributing factors to the relative failure of the fishery in the Sudan are a lack of relevant expertise and absence of modern production techniques, as well as the sharp decline in the price of pearls in Europe where the shells are used for button manufacture, inlay work and cosmetics. Consequently, the activities of the Oyster Family Farm Development Programme have been seriously hampered.

Freswater fish culture took off in 1953 with the establishment of a research/demonstration farm in Dongonab, Khartoum, for the purpose of the cultivation of indigenous finfish and, subsequently, exotic species.

Table 8 – the Sudan – Introduction of exotic aquaculture species (9)

Fish species Year introduced Source Purpose
Gambusia sp. 1929 Italy Malaria control
Salmo sp. 1947 Kenya Sport fishing
Tilapia melanopleura 1953 Congo Weed control
Cyprinus carpio 1975 India Polyculture
Ctenopharyngodon idella 1975 India Weed control

The freshwater fish farm practice is largely based on the earthen pond system, with an insignificant percentage of floating cages and industrial concrete ponds. And, the culture technique is mainly extensive, with a monoculture of mixed sex Oreochromis niloticus dominating the system. This indigenous species is about the only fish which has been, to some degree, successfully farmed in the Sudan, though culture trials have been carried out on Lates niloticus, Labeo spp., and Clarias gariepinus with negligible success. Thus, though the Sudan has the prerequisites for successful aquaculture, the subsector currently operates significantly below its potential.

(9) ftp://ftp.fao.org/FI/DOCUMENT/fcp/en/FI_CP_SD.pdf, p.19, Table 11.

Recreational sub-sectorThe recreational subsector has remained underdeveloped in the Sudan largely because of the prevailing economic hardship and the attendant focus of nationals on food security. In spite of this, however, some sport fishing activities such as scuba diving, underwater photography and sea faring in the marine waters, and angling in the inland waters, do take place occasionally. Furthermore, the fish resources which are harboured alongside the numerous coral reef populations have a strong capacity to support a thriving ornamental fishery. And, thirty-five kilometres northeast of Port Sudan is situated the Sanganab atoll which since 1990 has been internationally recognized as National Marine Park.
Post-harvest sectorFish utilizationFish end-users in the Sudan utilize the catch in several ways. About 70 percent of the harvest is consumed fresh, while sundried products and wet salted products account for 25 percent and five percent of the utilization methods respectively.

From the distant fishing grounds, fresh fish is transported, either chilled or refrigerated, to the national capital Khartoum, and other towns. Sundried products are mainly available in poor rural communities which rely basically on rainfall for farming, and which do not have sufficient fish preservation options. And wet-salted products, comprising mostly Hydrocyon spp., Alestes spp. and Mugil spp., are meant for either local consumption or export. Shrimps and prawns are sold locally as a high-value delicacy food, especially in upscale hotels. Animal feed production absorbs negligible amounts of the catch, consisting mainly of low-value species, discards and offal.

While shells of both the mother-of-pearl oyster (Pinctada margaritifera) and the gastropod Trochus dentatus are destined for the European market, other shells are harvested and sold locally as a source of calcium for animal feed or even as souvenirs. Also, an insignificant part of the catch is used in the local cottage industry for the production of handicraft and cosmetics.

However, large amounts of the harvest are lost through improper handling, preservation, processing, storage and distribution, with poor personal and material hygiene and environmental sanitation, as well as lack of basic fish technology techniques being principal factors.
Fish marketsWhereas the largest market for freshwater fish is the capital Khartoum, Port Sudan is the principal consumer of marine products, though some shrimps are sold also in the capital city. Further, the states of Red Sea, Kasala, and Gadarif constitute an appreciable market for the sea products.
Socio-economic contribution of the fishery sectorRole of fisheries in the national economyOf the Sudanese 2012 GDP value of USD 58.77 billion, fisheries contribute marginally, though the exact value is not recorded as a result of the prevailing poor statistical data collection effort. However, a total fish export value of USD 0.2 million and a per capita fish consumption level of 1.8 kg were reported for 2009.

Capture fisheries from both marine and inland waters make a higher relative contribution to the economy, as the aquaculture subsector is still nascent in the Sudan. However, the total national fish production satisfies only a small percentage of the local fish demand, leaving a gaping amount to be met by imports.
TradeThe Sudan’s percentage fish self-sufficiency is low because of poor productivity, and as a result fish is imported to satisfy growing annual deficits. A thriving trans-border trade involving the import and export of fish and fish products exists between the Sudan and its African and Arab neighbouring countries.

In 2009, the import value of fish and fishery products into the Sudan stood in the order of USD 4.6 million. As the local fish production is insufficient to meet the dietary needs of the population, chilled fish is imported from Ethiopia while shrimps are brought in from United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Canned sardines, mackerels and tuna are imported from different Asian and European countries. Also, about 16 000 tonnes of fresh fish(10) are imported from South Sudan through porous borders to Kosti and other southern parts of the Sudan, and from there even up to the capital, Khartoum. In addition, an unquantified amount of a fish product known as Mandesha (a compacted mass of a small fish species in a wicker basket) is traded cross-border from South Sudan through the same route to the Sudan.

As regards export, the focus is on marine fisheries products including finfish, sea cucumber, shrimps, and some wet-salted mullet preparations. While cultured shrimps are exported to Saudi Arabia, a small quantity of shark fins is taken to Asia. Egypt and Europe are the other Sudanese fish export destinations.

(10) Republic of South Sudan, 2013. The Comprehensive Agricultural Development Master Plan (CAMP), Situation Analysis (Preliminary Results), p.12 -28.
Food securityThough the precise value of the fisheries contribution to the national GDP is unrecorded, the entire agriculture sector, which includes fisheries, contributed 24 percent of the GDP, amounting to USD 14.1 billion. Fish and fish products are highly appreciated in the Sudanese diet for their indispensable nutritional value, and they thus contribute significantly to the food and nutrition security of the population.EmploymentThe fisheries and aquaculture sectors generate a range of employment activities, , on a full-time or part-time basis, in the Sudan. These activities which may be divided into primary and secondary employment, engage fishers, fish processors, marketers, boat builders, fishing gear traders, fish farmers, etc. In 2009, a total number of 6 800 individuals were engaged in part-time fishing in both marine and inland waters. The number of full-time fishers for the same year was 21 500, a sharp increase of 67 percent over the figure of 12 900 full-time registered fishers in 2006.(11)

On the whole, while a combined total of 28 300 fishers, of full-time and part-time operations, participated in marine and inland fishing activities in 2010, only 140 jobs were created by the aquaculture subsector in 2009.

(11) ftp://ftp.fao.org/FI/DOCUMENT/fcp/en/FI_CP_SD.pdf, p.25.

Rural developmentMost rural areas of the Sudan have benefitted significantly from the fisheries activities which are conducted in their environs. Fishing and associated economic operations generate both employment and investment opportunities, thus curbing rural-urban population shift.

Small-scale oyster farms which are sited along the northern Sudanese coast have contributed significantly to the stability and improvement of the socio-economic status of these multi-ethnic communities, which have very little alternative income generating opportunities. Fisheries and aquaculture, therefore, have the potential to enhance rural socio-economic stability in the Sudan.

More than anywhere else, rural fishing communities rely largely on fish for the much-needed protein as it is known that the per capita fish consumption in such communities is significantly higher than the national average. Fisheries, therefore, play for those communities the multiple, indispensable role of being a major source of food and nutrition security, livelihood, and income generation. Also, some communities are close-knit, strong and organized, and thus possess sufficient capacity to engender improvement in their area of domain.

Fisheries are, often, the only rallying point for some rural communities as almost every aspect of life such as social, cultural and political activities revolve around fish. However, competition over water use does occur, sometimes, between fishers /fish farmers on the one hand, and crop farmers/animal herders on the other hand, who need to use the same water to either irrigate their farm or to water their livestock.
Trends, issues and developmentConstraints and opportunitiesThe fisheries and aquaculture of the Sudan are fraught with many constraints, which include:
  • The unavailability of comprehensive data coverage due to poor data collection. Where data exist, they are for the most part not reliable. This, therefore, greatly hampers fisheries management and policy formulation;
  • Lack of competent and experienced fisheries management and technical personnel;
  • The dense macrophytic vegetation on some of the rivers and tributaries constitutes a major impediment to fishing and navigation, thus resulting in poor exploitation of resources and the consequent low productivity and inadequacy of fish and fish products for the population;
  • The abundant coral reef populations constitute a hindrance to bottom trawl fishing;
  • Aquaculture development is marginal in spite of the availability of its prerequisites;
  • Post harvest losses are high because of poor handling, preservation, processing, storage and distribution, which stem partly from improper personal and material hygiene;
Opportunities, however, abound for the Sudanese fisheries and aquaculture, including the following:
  • With all its preconditions in abundance, aquaculture is a sine qua non activity for the improvement of the fish production level of the Sudan;
  • Improved capture fishery technologies and the acquisition of requisite expertise will, most certainly, result in improved production;
  • With improvement in fishing techniques and fish technology, there will be plenty primary and peripheral job opportunities for fishers and others along the value chain, and for the enhancement of their food security, nutritional and socio-economic status;
  • Skilled and experienced fisheries management, technical and extension services can bring about remarkable development of the fisheries and aquaculture;
  • Post-harvest losses could be curbed or, at least drastically reduced, through improvement in hygiene, fish handling, preservation, processing, storage and distribution.

Government and non-government sector policies and development strategiesThe Quarter Century Strategy of the Sudan (2002-2027) calls for the following elements as the guiding values of the fisheries sector strategy :(12)
  • An enhanced role for fisheries in poverty alleviation, food security, human health and environment;
  • Adopting scientific research and technology advancement as vehicles for increasing productivity efficiency;
  • Rational utilization, conservation and development of aquatic and fisheries resources through sustainable production management, restocking of depleted fish stocks and pollution control;
  • Strengthening economic infrastructure and promoting privatization;
  • Strengthening public and private sector institutional setups;
  • Securing participation of the fisheries sector beneficiaries in management and development processes;
  • Developing and strengthening the competitiveness of fisheries products through improvements in marketing channels, quality control and safety;
  • Promoting sustainable development;
  • Strengthening and developing information resources and databases;
  • Strengthening regional and international cooperation, including agreements, exchange of experiences, joint programmes and scientific forums;
  • Institutional and legislative reforms;
  • Strengthening coordination mechanisms between the public and private sectors at the central and state levels within the country;
  • Establishing and developing fisher and producer organizations;
  • Promoting fish producers and fisheries investors through stimulating easy-term credit systems.
Major elements of the strategy are:
  • Food security and poverty alleviation;
  • Environmental sustainability;
  • Rational utilization and conservation of resources;
  • Investment in and development of aquaculture;
  • Development of fisheries-based aquaculture;
  • Conservation of genetic resources;
  • Improvement of quality and safety of fish products;
  • Investment in human resources;
  • Investment in research and development;
  • Strengthening databases and linkages;
  • Institutional support;
  • Promotion of marketing and trade;
  • Regional and international cooperation.

(12) ftp://ftp.fao.org/FI/DOCUMENT/fcp/en/FI_CP_SD.pdf, pp.27, 28.

Research, education and trainingResearchMajor research in fisheries is conducted at the Fisheries Research Centre, Animal Resources Research Corporation (Ministry of Science and Technology), which has in place specialized stations that are geographically situated to cover major marine and inland waters. As a result, the following research stations are available:
  • Fisheries Research Centre, headquarters - Khartoum
  • Red Sea Research Station - Port Sudan
  • White Nile Research Station - Kosti
  • Lake Nubia Research Station - Wadi Halfa
  • Roseires Research Station - El Damazin
  • Khashm El Girba Research Station - Half El Gadieda
  • Aquaculture Research Station - Khartoum
The Red Sea Fisheries Research Station involves itself mainly with the marine fishery while the Aquaculture Research Station is appropriately concerned with fish cultivation research. Research in fisheries is also undertaken at the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences, College of Animal Production Science and Technology of the Sudan University of Science and Technology(13), Khartoum North; the Red Sea University, and at some other universities within the country.

(13) www.sustech.edu

Education and trainingThe Sudan has more than 100 universities, some of which like the Red Sea University and the Sudan University of Science and Technology, conduct training in fisheries. The University of Khartoum (Faculty of Animal Production) and the University of Sinnar (College of Natural Resources) also offer courses in fisheries. The Fisheries Training Institute handles short-term courses which are designed for fisheries officers, technicians, fish farmers and fishers.
Foreign aidSome international organizations which have assisted in developing the Sudan’s fisheries are:
  • the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO),
  • the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP),
  • the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC),
  • the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF),
  • the Regional Organization for the Conservation of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden (PERSGA),
  • OXFAM; and
  • Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC).
The FAO, through its Fisheries Department, has particularly being instrumental in the sustainable development of fisheries and aquaculture in the Sudan.
Institutional frameworkWhile the Fisheries Research Centre (Ministry of Science and Technology) takes care of research in fisheries, the Fisheries Administration located within the Federal Ministry of Animal Resources and Fisheries is the central fisheries authority responsible for planning, policy formulation, provision of training and extension services, and the general supervision of the fisheries sector.

Below is the organogram for the Fisheries Administration within the Ministry of Animal Resources and Fisheries:

Figure 1 – Sudan – Organogram of the Fisheries Adminisration within the Ministry of Animal Resources and Fisheries
Figure 1 – Sudan – Organogram of the Fisheries Adminisration within the Ministry of Animal Resources and Fisheries

Legal frameworkThe overarching legal instrument governing the fisheries of the Sudan is the Constitution of the Republic of the Sudan, 1998. The Freshwater Fishing Law of 1954, as amended first in 1960 and again in 1995, governs the inland capture fisheries.

The Sudan’s Quarter Century Strategy (2002 – 2027) stipulates a series of guiding principles for the fisheries sector. And, on its part, the Marine Fisheries Regulation of 1975, which succeeded the Marine Fisheries Ordinance of 1937, aims to regulate fishing and the use of marine resources in the territorial waters of the Sudan.Regional and international legal frameworkIn January 1985, the Sudan became a signatory to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which stipulates a comprehensive regime of law and order in the world’s oceans and seas, and establishes rules governing all uses of the oceans and their resources.

Figure 2 – the Sudan – Map
Figure 2 – the Sudan – Map
Source: http://www.un.org/Depts/Cartographic/map/profile/sudan.pdf

Disclaimer: The designations employed and the presentation of material in the map(s) are for illustration only and do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of FAO concerning the legal or constitutional status of any country, territory or sea area, or concerning the delimitation of frontiers or boundaries. Final boundary between the Republic of Sudan and the Republic of South Sudan has not yet been determined.
World Bank. 2014. Sudan [online].http://data.worldbank.org/country/sudan [consulted 2014].
Republic of South Sudan, 2013. The Comprehensive Agricultural Development Master Plan (CAMP), Situation Analysis (Preliminary Results).

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