Inland Fisheries

Symposium on the Evaluation of Fishery Resources in the Development and Management of Inland Fisheries. CIFA Technical Paper No. 2 (En).

Managing inland fisheries

Evaluation and Monitoring of Stocks

Progress has been made in the evaluation of fishery resources in African inland waters since the earlier resource assessment seminars held in Jinja (Uganda) and Bujumbura (Burundi) 1971. A number of workers on various lakes are now using simple techniques to estimate the size of the stocks and the condition of the fisheries. Many of the results so far obtained agree well with the rough model based on the morpho-edaphic index. Such simple but rough methods may be more valuable at the early stages than more precise but more difficult methods. However, in some areas more precise estimates are now required because of indications of overfishing and a consequent need for immediate management action in such waters.

Recognizing the need for the continuation of the work on the evaluation and monitoring of stocks, it was recommended that the present efforts in this direction be continued and that an ad hoc working group be held at the Second Session of CIFA and that in the intersessional period these objectives should form the subject of a correspondence working group.


River and Floodplain Fisheries

In contract to the relatively advanced information that is available on lake fisheries, little is known about the fisheries of the river systems of the continent. Despite this lack of knowledge, it has been possible to estimate that at least 40 percent of the fresh-water fish caught in Africa originate from riverine areas. Such studies as do exist indicate that the majority of this production comes from those zones possessing a floodplain. There is an increasing demand for the development of such areas for agriculture with a consequent risk of their deterioration as a site for fisheries through drainage or pollution by agro-chemicals. Floodplains are also affected by hydroelectric and irrigation projects as exemplified by the many hectares which have already been lost to fisheries production below the Kainji dam.

In view of the little information that exists on these resources, the necessity of initiating and expanding work in this direction was emphasized and it was recommended that the Plenary Session of CIFA consider the possibility of establishing a working group on river and floodplain fishery management and development.


Development of Artisanal Fisheries

The studies that have been carried out to date on African inland waters have been mainly concerned with the biological and technical aspects of the fisheries. Comparatively little attention has been directed at an understanding of the social and economic factors which act more directly on the human resource and which are perhaps equally important to the overall development and management of the fishery. The human resource in many areas of Africa consists of those small scale fishermen that are wholly dependant on the fishery for their livelihood. Such artisanal fishermen are especially vulnerable to the effects of changing conditions within the fishery and often lack the means to adapt readily to such changes. Limited experiences in certain areas of the continent have shown that the income, efficiency and working conditions of such fishermen can be improved by a well directed investment of materials.

In order to ensure careful consideration of the problems of these fishermen in the CIFA area, and more attention being paid to means of improving their productivity and their condition of life it was recommended that the Plenary Session of CIFA consider the possibility of establishing a working group on aspects of the development and management of artisanal fisheries.


Possibilities of International Activities

Many of the major waters of Africa fall under the jurisdiction of two or more riparian states. Actions within the territories of one state, for example by overfishing, pollution or alteration of the hydrological regime, can affect the fisheries of the other owner states. Furthermore, in these waters effective studies can only be carried out on an international basis. Action at the international level is also essential to the proper development and management of the stocks and efforts in this direction have begun on some African waters.

In order to ensure the maximum benefit to all who are involved with any individual resource it was recommended that the African member countries consider the establishment of international bodies to coordinate their activities with respect to the joint management of their stocks and the control of their environment.


Collection and Dissemination of Information

The value of any work done on fisheries in Africa depends on its being readily available to all workers in the field. There is therefore a need for increased communication between the member countries of CIFA and this is one of the major roles of the Committee. The storage, interpretation and transmission of data is greatly facilitated by standardization of reporting.

It was recommended that an appropriate series of documents be established for the dissemination of information to the member countries of CIFA.

It was recommended that the possibilities for the standardization of resource data reporting be studied by a correspondence working group and that subsequently all relevant data be communicated to the FAO Fisheries Data Centre for processing and dissemination.