While small-scale, artisanal fishing does provide many with income and food, most modern commercial fishing in Gabonese waters is conducted by foreign vessels.
Just 10 to 20 percent of the crews on those ships are Gabonese nationals. And due to poor port infrastructure, most of these vessels offload their catches in other countries, meaning jobs lost in related sectors, like fish processing.
At the same time, Gabon's yearly fish production - estimated to be between 40 000 and 50 000 tonnes - falls short of meeting national demand. Each year Gabon imports over 7 000 tonnes of fish products, FAO noted.
With $270 000 in support from FAO, Gabonese fishery officials will streamline procedures aiming to assess and monitor Gabon's fishery resources and will create a national strategy aiming to promote the commercial fishing sector in the west African nation.
Bringing the benefits of fishing back home
Conducted in a responsible manner, FAO said, fishing offers many developing countries an important source of income and food.
Recent figures from FAO show that net revenues from fish trade (exports minus imports) by developing countries have reached $17.7 billion - a sum larger than that earned from their exports of tea, rice, cocoa and coffee combined.
In Gabon, a main barrier to developing a fishing industry has been the difficulty of maintaining a focused development strategy for the sector.
The new FAO project will work to address this by:
- strengthening systems for monitoring, assessing and reporting on the state of the fish stocks inter alia by improving the information systems used to store and analyze relevant information;
- suggesting ways to create fish-processing centres and related industries in order to add value to captured fish and boost earnings from fish sales in national and international markets;
- analyzing service and infrastructure gaps in Gabon's ports, with an eye to upgrading them, and;
- developing strategies for attracting investors to Gabon's fishing sector.
Information Officer, FAO
(+39) 06 570 56524