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Fisheries Sector

Fisheries in The Gambia are divided into two sub-sectors:

A) The artisanal sub-sector which is widely dispersed throughout the country and is mainly based on pirogues (canoes) with outboard engines. There are approximately 1,800 such boats in The Gambia.

B) The industrial sub-sector which comprises a small number of, mainly foreign owned, trawlers. In 2001 there were 57 such boats and one factory ship licenced to fish in Gambia waters.

Total annual fish production in 2002 was circa 43,000 metric tones (mt), of which only 573 tonnes was exported in 2003. Most exports are aimed at EU markets. It is believed that the Maximum Sustainable Yield for all species in Gambian territorial waters stands at between 150,000 mt. and 200,000 mt.

Artisanal Sector:
The artisanal subsector is highly diverse, incorporating marine, estuarine and freshwater fishing operations. The majority of the communities located along the Atlantic coastline and close to the River Gambia and tributaries engage in some form of artisanal fishing activity, the more prominent communities include the coastal villages of Kartong, Brufut, Tanji, Sanyang, Gunjur and Bakau, and the riverbank villages of Albreda, Bintang, Kemoto and Tendaba.

This sub-sector offers greater potential of making a positive immediate impact on the country's long-term development goals of achieving equitable income distribution consistent with a generalized improvement in rural nutritional status.

This subsector engages in extensive low-input fishing practices, using surrounding and bottom gill nets, hand and long lining, cast nets and stow nets and a few artisanal purse seiners targeting species in all four main stock categories (i.e. pelagics, demersal, cephalopods and crustaceans).

Artisanal fishing crafts are predominantly dug-out canoes along the river, and planked dug-out canoes of the Senegalese type along the marine coast. Fibreglass fishing canoes have recently been introduced in coastal artisanal fisheries. Artisanal fishing activities are active in both marine and river areas.

Management measures focus on the role of the sub-sector in: providing fish for local consumption and improved nutrition; employment generation and improved incomes; the integration of women in the development process as equal beneficiaries and partners; the organization of fisher folks into strong and viable interest groups capable of ensuring conformity with fisheries rules and regulations; in providing information and feed back to Government and participating in the planning, design and implementation of development projects and programmes.

The artisanal fish catch is either sold among the local communities for processing (drying and smoking) or is transported and marketed in major towns and villages in the hinterland. The processed fishery products are transported and sold in inland markets, and some is exported to neighbouring countries. A proportion of the artisanal fish catch of high value (shrimps, soles, sea breams, lobsters) are purchased by industrial fishing companies for processing and export abroad. An estimated 30000 people derive employment from the artisanal subsector.

Industrial Fishing Sector:
Industrial fisheries activities involve use of high-cost fish-production systems (fish trawlers), as well as high-cost processing systems (fish factories). There are about 20 locally registered fishing companies. Although the number keeps increasing, only 11 companies have so far managed to invest in fish factories. Seven fish factories have now been certified to process and export to EU countries. The remaining fish factories have not yet satisfied the regulations governing fish processing establishments. Only three fishing companies have managed to acquire fishing trawlers; the rest of the companies depend solely on supplies from artisanal fishermen to feed the fish factories (there is always undersupply and factories operate below capacity).

Industrial sub-sector targets four stock categories (pelagic, demersal, cephalopods and crustaceans). However, they fish mainly demersal fish species, which are processed and exported. The fishing companies operate industrial fishing vessels (shrimp trawlers, demersal trawlers) under licence, but the majority of these vessels do not land their catches in the Gambia because of lack of a fisheries port. Performance of the sub-sector is below expectations due mainly to the fact that industrial fishing companies are lacking in managerial and technical capability and capacity and are also lacking financial resources to operate viable industrial fisheries establishments. There is also the absence of well defined management plans based on identified objectives and strategies pursued in a concerted manner.

The Government strategy for the development of the industrial fisheries sector covers employment creation; increased revenue and foreign exchange earnings; human resources development; development of value-added fish products; implementing a standard code of hygiene and quality for fish processing establishments; and increased monitoring, surveillance and control of fishing activities.


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Contact Us

The Permanent Secretary
Ministry of Fisheries,
Marina Parade
Banjul, The Gambia
West Africa

 Tel:  (+220) 4227773

         (+220) 4227627

         (+220) 4201766


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