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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 (2019)

  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
    • 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: Feb, 2020

The contribution of fisheries to the GDP of Sudan is currently marginal. However, the country is endowed with water resources (by way of the Nile river system) and lands that can support vigorous capture fisheries and aquaculture. Sudan’s capture fisheries production was almost 38400 tonnes in 2017, 35100 tonnes from inland water catches and 3300 from marine catches. In 2017, there were an estimated 2330 small boats and 605 powered boats. A total of 13 686 people was reported as engaged in inland fishing in 2017, with 11% women.The aquaculture sector showed an increasing trend in the past few years, reaching 9000 tonnes in 2017. 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 and African catfish. The country is also dependant on imports of fish and fishery products (estimated at about USD 5.3 million in 2017) to satisfy the limited per capita fish consumption (about 1.1 kg in 2017). Exports are very small and were estimated at USD 1.5 million in 2017.
General geographic and economic indicators

Table 1 - General Geographic and Economic indicators - Sudan

Marine water area (including the EEZ) 91 600 km2


Shelf area 22 300 km2 Ibid.
Length of continental coastline 853 km Ibid.
Fisheries GDP (year) n/a  

Key statistics


Source: FAO Country Profile

FAO Fisheries statisticsTable 2 in this section is based on statistics prepared by the FAO Fishery Information, Data and Statistics Unit and disseminated in 2018. The charts are based on the same source but these are automatically updated every year with the most recent statistics.

Table 2 — FAO fisheries statistics - Sudan

      1995 2000 2005 2010 2015 2016 2017 2018
EMPLOYMENT (thousands) 21 21,3 20,1 20,1 24,499 24,499 38,185 21,799
  Aquaculture 0,9 1,2 ... 4,399 4,399 4,399 4,399
  Capture 20,1 20,1 20,1 20,1 20,1 20,1 33,786 17,4
    Inland 13,8 13,8 13,8 13,8 13,8 13,8 27,486 13,8
    Marine 6,3 6,3 6,3 6,3 6,3 6,3 6,3 3,6
FLEET(thousands boats) 4,22 4,22 4,22 3,428 3,428 3,428 0,905 1,18
Source: FAO Fishery and Aquaculture Statistics  
1) Due to roundings total may not sum up  

Please Note:Fishery statistical data here presented exclude the production for marine mammals, crocodiles, corals, sponges, pearls, mother-of-pearl and aquatic plants.


Updated 2019Part 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 population of 41 million people, according to 2016 UN figures, 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 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: 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 cooperative societies.(1)

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.


Marine sub-sectorPort 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 currentsWeak 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 AugustAbsence 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.(2)

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; andthe pelagic zone of over 300 fathoms (549 metres).

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

Catch profileA total marine catch of 1 750 tonnes was recorded in 2016, a greatly decreased figure in comparison to the previous years. The entire domestic fishing fleet is artisanal and small-scale and is mostly confined in inshore waters including lagoons and bays. Artisanal fishers mainly target fish species living on coral reefs using hook and lines and to some extent gillnets. A foreign fishing fleet composed of industrial trawlers (targeting shrimps) and purse-seiners (targeting small pelagics) flagging an Egyptian flag operate in dedicated areas on the continental shelf and in certain periods of the year. While these fisheries were suspended for many years, the Government of Red Sea State has begun to re-issue licences in 2016.

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/systemsThe 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. In 2017, 2 330 small boats were reported, against 605 engine powered vessels.

In 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.

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

Main resourcesFish 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 nameScientific Name
Thresher SharkAlopias vulpinus
Rusty SharkGinglymostoma ferrugineum, syn. Nebrius ferrugineus
Tiger SharkGaleocerda cuvier
Smooth dogfishMustelus canis
Dog SharkScoliodon 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).Marine fish in Port Sudan State are divided into three types according to local consumption and food quality, which are:
  • the first class fish represented by coral reef fish, including the family of the Labridae (Wrasses) and the fish of the family scaridae, Hipposcarus harid,
  • the second class fish represented by the family of Holocentridae (Squirrel fishes) Adioryx caudimaculatus and the family of Lutjanidae (snappers), and carangidae (Caranex sexfasciatus)
  • the third class fish represented by the family Acanthuridae (Surgeon fish). Naso unicornis, Sphyraendae (Sphyraens putnamiae).
The first class fish represents about 60% of the total production. The second class fish, which are mostly deep water fish, represent about 30%. The rest are the third class fish, which is the lowest and is found in the areas of marine grass and mangrove areas.

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 arrangementsThe 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 registeredInitial 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 6 300 marine coastal fishers were active in 2016.

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.

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.

The secession of South Sudan also has resulted in a significant loss of the inland fisheries potential/production. Current production is estimated by FAO at 55 percent of the total inland capture fishery production of the former Sudan. Based on official FAO data on capture fishery catch in 2015, this would have resulted to a loss of about 35,000 tonnes per year.

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 31 250 tonnes in 2016, the majority of total catch for the country.

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

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. The main vessel types are sharoaq, feluka and murkab al hadeed. In the states upstream of Khartoum, along both the Blue Nile and the White Nile, the more common vessels are sharoaq and feluka, whereas north of Khartoum the murkab al hadeed is more common. In many cases, two types of fishing gear are used on each boat, and there is a range of 2 to 3 fishers per boat Gear used include gill nets, seine nets, hooks and traps mainly on reservoirs with much less fishing on the River Nile and tributaries along the extensive stretches of water between reservoirs. The major method of fishing is with gill nets of varying mesh size. Monofilament nets are frequently observed although it is illegal in many states. Cast nets, small seines, hook and line, traps, and baited and unbaited longlines are also used but their contribution to total landings is minor.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., Hydrocynus spp., Clarias spp., Lates niloticus, Tilapia spp., Labeo spp., Alestes spp., Distichodus spp., Barbus binny, Bagrus spp., Mormyrus 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 termsSome 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 communitiesJust over 142 000 fishers participated in the Sudanese inland fishing operations in 2017, approximately 10 000 of which are female. 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.Part-time fishers are also involved in agricultural activities particularly during rainy season. Fishers also are from various ethnicities and some ethnics including Haoussa are known as having a long fishing tradition. Moreover, in addition to ‘traditional’ fishers, a new generation of opportunistic fishing communities has risen up around dams built throughout the country that withdrew the communities’ productive lands. These communities have learned and adopted traditional fishing practices from the old fishing communities, and do operate at subsistence level.

Aquaculture sub-sectorIn theory Sudan has a good chance to increase its fish production from aquaculture due to the availability of water and ‘land’, particularly in irrigation schemes, and the availability of agricultural by-products. Production has been slowly increasing, and 4 500 tonnes were produced in 2016, from 2 000 tonnes in 2009. The need of compensating the loss of inland fish production could partly explain why high priority has been given in recent years to aquaculture development in sectoral public policies.

Freshwater fish culture began in 1953 in Elshagara using extensive and semi-intensive pond culture of the indigenous Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) in monoculture or polyculture systems. Exotic species have also been introduced for experimental culture in combination with tilapia (e.g. common carp) or for use as biological control agents for eradication of aquatic weeds infesting the irrigation canals of large agricultural schemes (grass carp). Some trials of pen culture were conducted together with seeding of some rainwater impoundments (haffirs) and dams with tilapia species as a form of culture-based fisheries (see also section on fisheries enhancement below). Trials of Lates niloticus and Labio spp. culture were also conducted, but did not succeed.

Nowadays, private freshwater fish farming units of different size and with different level of professionalism can be found in Sudan, specifically in the Khartoum State. Fish farming systems mostly involve earthen and concrete ponds and around half of them depend on wells for their water supply followed by supply from canals and directly from the Nile. Provision of seeds (Clarias and tilapias) either comes from the wild or from hatcheries. An emerging and promising system based on cage culture has emerged recently in lacustrine (e.g. Lake Nubia, Khashm El Girba Reservoir) or riverine waters (e.g. White Nile in Khartoum). Moreover, some private hatcheries (focusing on the production of monosex tilapia) have recently started to operate. In parallel to these private aquaculture units, several public hatcheries are still operational in some states including Blue Nile, White Nile and Al Gezira states. Interestingly, a model of fish hatchery based on a public-private partnership is under development in the Khartoum State (the contribution of the State would mostly focused on the provision of land, water and electricity). Although currently there is no active production, mariculture in Sudan (in the Red Sea States) dates form the early 1990. Historically, mariculture focused on the culture of the Mother-of-pearl oyster (Pinctada margaritifera), for shell production and later on shrimp culture (FAO Fishery Country Profile, 2008). Shells were exported for button manufacture, though disease epidemics and competing materials have undermined the commercial viability of this form of mariculture. Shrimp culture was done from two commercial farms whose production levels could reach more than 6 tons annually, mostly sold locally and few exported to Saudi Arabia. Shrimp farms however were faced by serious lack of profitability and they ceased their operation.

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 1.4 million and a per capita fish consumption level of 1.1 kg were reported for 2013.

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.6.2 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 2016, the import value of fish and fishery products into the Sudan stood in the order of USD 7.5 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. 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.

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.

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: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.

Research, education and trainingResearchFisheries research is undertaken under the umbrella of the Animal Research Corporation whose Director General reports directly to the Minister of Animal Resources. This means that there are no direct linkages between the fisheries research system and the fisheries administration. The headquarters for fisheries research is the Fisheries Research Centre (FRC) in Khartoum supported by seven regional research stations/laboratories that are located to cover the most important inland and marine waters. These are:Red Sea Research Station, Port SudanWhite Nile Research Station, KostiLake Nubia Research Station, Wadi HalfaRoseires Research Station, El DamazinKhashm El Girba Research Station, Khashm El Girba.Merowe Research Station, (Merowe), the most recently initiated station.Aquaculture Research Station, Khartoum (Al Shagara), which was recently rehabilitated and renovated with the support of FAO. FRC is responsible with applied research and transfer of technology in the fisheries and aquaculture sector. The number of professional staff at FRC is 53, of which 9 PhD holder researchers, 10 M.Sc holder researchers, and 12 research assistants with a B.Sc. Degree. Staff specializations include aquaculture, fish biology, fish processing technology and fisheries. In the stations/laboratories, there is a total of 26 researchers and 27 technicians (plus 52 non-technical staff). It is the mandate of the Aquaculture Research Station to supply approved research recommendation to the Federal Fisheries Administration, which in turns provides extension and training services. Some States, in parallel, are also reported to have programs in fish aquaculture. At least one university (Al El-Neelain Faculty of Agricultural Technology and Fish Sciences) is actively involved in aquaculture and securing financing for the outsourcing of this activity. At least one institution – the Red Sea University - is reported to undertake- mariculture research along the Red Sea coast. Several universities also have fisheries research programs. The mandate of the research programme is to conduct basic and applied research in fisheries and related disciplines through postgraduate studies.FRC coordinates all research works and initiatives through a Technical Research Committee, with representation of public and private sector stakeholders. The regular programs of FRC are intended to deal with research on fisheries, fish culture and fish valorization, and with technology transfer and capacity building. However, as with all other departments involved in the management of fisheries, a scarcity of funds, if any at all are received, means that the amount of research being undertaken is trivial, particularly regarding the fisheries sector. Concerning specifically aquaculture, priority for research is now to make use of the Aquaculture Research Station to conduct applied research on improved seeds (monosex, selection, and genetically improved seed).

Education and trainingAlthough training in fisheries is part of the mandate of GDFA mandate, and in spite of the existence of a National Fisheries Training Centre at Elshgara, this activity is poorly functional, not least because of the lack of funding. The Centre urgently needs rehabilitation to be fully functional. Meanwhile, the Centre would deliver short-term training targeting fisheries officers, private fish farmers and fishers and field training and extension services would be provided periodically to fishers and fish farmers through visits and fishers group discussions.Sudan has now over 100 universities – including in particular the Red Sea University and the University of Khartoum - as well as specialized colleges in fisheries science (Natural resources, Marine Sciences and Fisheries, Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, Sciences and Technology of Animal Production, Agriculture Technology and Fish Sciences). All these have contributed technical, administrative and other support for staff training. The number of specialized cadres in the field of fisheries is nowadays estimated at more than 2 000, of which about 1 500 graduates.Also training of fishers and cadres in the field of fisheries and aquaculture is conducted by the Fisheries Research Center through short training courses.

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; andCanada’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

The national development agenda is guided by the Sudan 25 Year Strategic Plan, 2007-2031, which forms the basis of a series of national 5-year strategic plans. The second Five-Year Strategic Plan (2012-17) provides general direction for diversification of the economy from oil to agriculture and other sectors. A 3-year Emergency Austerity programme was introduced in 2011 to guide economic policy in response to loss of oil revenue, rising inflation, currency devaluation and rise in the cost of imports.In the meantime, there is a set of overarching policy documents and specific policy documents that pertains to the fisheries and aquaculture sector. These include the Quarter Century Strategy for Animal and Fisheries Resources Sector (2003-2027), the Sudan National Agriculture Investment Plan (2016-2020), the Comprehensive National Food and Nutrition Security Policies (2015), the Livestock Policy in Sudan (2018), and the Comprehensive National Policy for Nile Water Use (2018).

Legal frameworkThe Transitional Constitution of the Republic of the Sudan (2005) was promulgated to cover the Transitional period of six years. It sets out, under its Article 24, the framework for a decentralized nation with three levels of government: National level Government which defines the national policies and strategies;State level Government. There are presently 18 States to whom authority has been devolved for policy-making, planning, regulatory enforcement and financial management, all of which aim at achieving more efficient and effective service delivery to the public. All of these States have fisheries departments but there is only one costal state which is the Red Sea StateLocal: throughout Sudan, the 18 States are further divided in 133 districts.One of the guiding principles of the Transition Constitution pertains to Environment and Natural Resources according to which “the State shall promote, through legislation, sustainable utilization of natural resources and best practices with respect to their management” (Article 11). It further establishes the guiding principle of equitable sharing of natural resources and common wealth of Sudan “to enable each level of government to discharge its legal and constitutional responsibilities and duties” (Article 185).The Constitution authorizes the State authorities to issue local orders to regulate in conformity of the Central laws fishing practices within their jurisdiction. This means that each state in Sudan has the right to take the necessary measures to manage its fisheries resources in accordance with the general opinion of the General Directorate of Fisheries and Aquaculture in Khartoum, each according to the nature of the fishery.The national fisheries legislation is outdated and not in compliance with the international and regional commitments of Sudan (FAO/PSMs project document, 2018). The main piece of fisheries legislation is the Freshwater Fisheries Act (1954), amended in 1960 and again in 1995, which remains the key policy instrument for the management of inland fisheries, and the Marine Fisheries Ordinance (1937), amended and renamed as the Marine Fisheries Regulation (1960), which aims at regulating fishing and use of marine resources in Sudanese territorial waters. There is no text dealing specifically with aquaculture.

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].
http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NV.AGRIC.TOTL.ZS/countries .
http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.MKTP.CD/countries .
http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.PCAP.CD .
ftp://ftp.org/FI/DOCUMENT/fcp/en/FI_CP_SD.pdf .
Republic of South Sudan, 2013. The Comprehensive Agricultural Development Master Plan (CAMP), Situation Analysis (Preliminary Results).
www.acpfish2-eu.org/index.php?page=sudan .
www.environmentservices.com/projects/programs/RedSeaCD/DATA/Module06/M06_box_sudan_fisheries.html .
www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_politics_in_the_Nile_Basin .
www.sustech.edu .
www.tradingeconomics.com/sudan/population .

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