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Fisheries & aquaculture play key role in Africa’s economy

The fisheries and aquaculture sector contribute significantly to Africa’s overall economy. This is according to a new study published by FAO.

In the report, the value added by the fisheries sector as a whole – which includes inland and marine capture fisheries, post-harvest, licensing of local fleets and aquaculture - was estimated at more than US$24 billion in 2011, representing 1.26% of the gross domestic product (GDP) of all African countries.

A close look at figures highlights the key role of marine artisanal fisheries and related processing, as well as inland fisheries which provide one third of the continent's total catches. While aquaculture is still developing in Africa and is mostly concentrated in a few countries, it already produces an estimated value of almost US$3 billion a year.

As data on licence fees paid by foreign fleets were not easily available to the national experts participating in this study, an attempt was also made to estimate the value of fisheries agreements with Distant Water Fishing Nations (DWFNs) fishing in the exclusive economic zones of African States. Considering that 25 percent of all marine catches around Africa are still by non-African countries, if also these catches were caught by African States in theory they could generate an additional value of US$3.3 billion, which is eight times higher than the current US$0.4 billion African countries earn from fisheries agreements.

All in all, the sector as a whole employs 12.3 million people as full-time fishers or full-time and part-time processors, representing over 2 percent of 15-64 year olds in Africa. About 27% of the people engaged in fisheries and aquaculture are women, with marked differences in their share among fishers (3.6%), processors (58%), and aquaculture workers (4%).

Aimed at providing an overall picture of the sector in Africa by assessing the contribution to national and agriculture GDP and the employment generated by the whole fisheries sector, "The value of African fisheries" study was carried out in the framework of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD)-FAO Fisheries Programme (NFFP) funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). See also the Policy briefs prepared by NEPAD in collaboration with the Partnership for African Fisheries (PAF) and the NFFP.

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