The Federal Department of Fisheries is charged with the responsibility of sustainable development of Nigerian inland and marine fisheries resources for the attainment of self-sufficiency in fish production, utilization and resource conservation through effective policy strategies. The Department outlines strategies aimed at providing an enabling environment for greater private sector participation in the development of the fisheries and aquaculture sector across the value chain. The Department has exclusive responsibility for the control of marine fisheries resource exploitation, conservation and protection in line with the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and other international conventions. This is with a view to ensuring the sustainability of the fisheries resources and livelihoods.
Overview of Nigeria Fisheries
Nigeria is a maritime country. It has a coastline of 853 km. The surface area of its continental shelf is 46,300 km2 while the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) covers an area of 210,900 km2, within which Nigeria exercises rights for purposes of exploiting, conserving and managing its resources.
The harvest of resources of the first five nautical miles of the coastal marine waters is also the exclusive preserve of Artisanal Fishermen according to the Sea Fisheries Act of 1973 while the Industrial Sector operates outside of the 5 Nautical miles. The numerous Freshwater lakes, rivers, reservoirs, dams and floodplains, the total surface area of which is about 12.547Million Hectares support Artisanal Fisheries Development and Aquaculture. The fishery resources of the nation comprise a rich diversity of finfish and shellfish found in the territorial waters, the EEZ and the Inland waters. The resources can be categorized into Coastal Inshore (Finfish), Offshore (Finfish), Coastal Artisanal (Shellfish), Industrial Shellfish) and Freshwater Resources. The Coastal Inshore resources are dominated by Coastal pelagics and Inshore shell fish resources. The major species include the Croakers, Soles, Barracudas, Grunters, Pink Shrimps, White and Tiger Shrimps. Nigeria’s offshore resources include Tuna Species such as skipjack, bigeye, yellowfin, etc with a potential said to be 10,000 mt annually. Nigeria has joined the International Committee for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT). Some lantern fisheries resources are also found in commercial quantities in the Nigerian waters.
Fish constitutes about 41% of the total animal protein intake by an average Nigerian; hence there is great demand for fish in the country. The Federal Department of Fisheries therefore aims at substituting fish importation with domestic production to create jobs, reduce poverty in rural areas where 70% of the population lives and also ease balance of payments. Nigeria has the capacity to be self -sufficient in fish production within a short time frame if the numerous potentials of about 1.7 Million Ha of Land and 14Million Ha of water are adequately utilized. These potentials can translate to about 2.5million tons of fish annually.