Inland Fisheries

An audit of inland capture fishery statistics - Africa

Overview of inland fisheries

Catches from African inland capture fisheries are rising at about 3.7 percent per year. The combined reported catches in 2007 were 2 463 975 tonnes. Catch reports from the 20 highest producing countries (representing more than 94 percent of the total catch) are analysed for consistency by a subjective evaluation based on the form of the data set, knowledge of trends in climate, predicted yield patterns from models of similar fisheries and the results of independent research. The other African countries are examined in less detail. The audit shows that 37 percent of countries reported catches as still rising, 28 percent as falling and 35 percent as stable. The reported catch from about 72 percent of countries is judged to need some clarification before these trends can be fully understood. Particular clarification is needed for the Sahelian zone countries as catches are reported as rising there despite negative climatic conditions. Clarification is also needed for the Congo basin where a historic lack of data collection makes it impossible to estimate the true production and any trends in catch. The regional trend is probably misrepresenting the historical catch levels and hence caution should be used when referencing to the increasing catch figure. In addition, the relatively stable catch per person depicted by this trend should also be referenced with care and could even have been decreasing in the last decades. In conclusion, the potential and future development of inland capture fisheries of Africa cannot be fully assessed until clarification is given on the above mentioned areas relating to the reported statistics. Hence, there is a need for further information to interpret the trends in inland fisheries in Africa and to resolve the paradox of apparently threatened resources and ever growing catches.