FISH FARMING

FIsh Farming

Technically called Aquaculture, Fish Farming is the process where a certain type of desired specie is taken, fed and cared for, up to maturity and then sold. The fact that you have the control in determining what kind of fish you want to farm, the quantity, location of farm etc. makes this method more advantageous than capture fisheries. Fish farming involves raising fish in tanks or enclosures, usually for food or commercial purpose. Carp, tilapia, and catfish are the most common fish species raised by fish farmers in Nigeria. Fish farming is as old as time itself. Fish farming continues to grow in popularity day by day. It is, like most other types of farming, a risky business that requires special knowledge, skills, and careful considerations. You must properly house, feed and treat the fishes at all times as this goes a long way in determining your profitability or otherwise. Fish farming is common in most parts of Nigeria, especially in the North and South.

Africa has increased its contribution to global production from 1.2 percent to 2.2 percent in the past ten years, albeit from a very low base. The share of freshwater aquaculture in the region fell from 55.2 percent to 21.8 percent in the 1990s, largely reflecting the strong growth in brackish-water culture in Egypt, but it recovered in the 2000s, reaching 39.5 percent in 2010 as a result of rapid development in freshwater fish farming in sub-Saharan Africa, most notably in Nigeria, Uganda, Zambia, Ghana, and Kenya[i].

Artisanal Fisheries

Artisanal fisheries in Nigeria constitute the most significant fishery sector in terms of people engaged in or dependent upon it. This sector, account for the majority of the country’s fish production. Yet, this sector is the poorest in terms of its standard of living, with the fishermen generally making a subsistence living.

It’s synonymous to hunting in the forests, (capture fisheries). It entails hunting for fishes in their natural habitats along the coastline and the boundary of inland water bodies e.g. dams, lakes, rivers, lagoon, etc. Like hunting on land, they make use of small-medium sized canoe usually between 3-10 meters; the fishermen make use of basic tools like traps, nets, and hooks to catch the fishes


Canoes used by artisanal fish farmers

In this method of fishing, Nature has made it in such a way that you can only get what the place has been naturally endowed with in terms of quantity and specie because everything present in that particular water solely depends on nature. The labour involved in fishing is far beyond the financial return. The catch per unit effort is significantly low and the fisher folks face many social problems. Despite the social problem of small scale fisheries in Nigeria, it accounts for over 80% of the domestic fish production.

Economic Importance of Fishes

Given its relatively cheaper cost, fish has become the major source of nutrition for the people of Nigeria, most of who are not economically well off. Fish remains the main product consumed in terms of animal protein in Nigeria.

Apart from the fact that Fishes are a great source of affordable protein which the human body needs in regular and specific quantities and also as a major Pharmaceutical ingredient,  the following can also be derived from fishes:

  • Fish oil soap
  • Body cream
  • Perfume

Other possible venture in fish farming (Aquaculture) includes:

  1. Fingerling production
  2. Fish feed production   –zooplankton, micro-pelletpellets
  3. Table fish production (outgrowing)
  4. Marketing and input supply
  5. Ornamental uses for Aquariums etc
  6. Project management
  7. Value addition such as preservation etc.

Beyond the above mentioned, Fishes are now being used as raw materials for fillets, Canning for eateries and fish feeds just to mention but a few.

The importance of fish is greater today than ever before and is steadily growing. Statisticians predict that much of the vital protein food necessary to nourish our ever-increasing human population – of which perhaps half are underfed even today – will come from marine (saltwater) fisheries. At present, approximately twenty-five million tons of fish are procured from the sea each year.

Men Fishing with a Canoe

Investigations of ways and means to increase this yield are now being vigorously pursued in many parts of the world. In the United States, the total estimated catch of salt and freshwater fish for one recent year was more than 3,850,000,000 pounds, valued at well over $200,000,000 or N32, 000,000,000. Bringing it home to Nigeria, it has been reported that the fishing industry is worth over N42, 000,000,000!

The present level of Fish Production in Nigeria

In Nigeria, fish alone contributes on the average 20-25% per capita animal intake and could be as high as 80% in coastal and riverine communities (FAO 2000). (FAO 2000) estimates the projected population and fish demand supply from 1997 to 2025, with domestic fish production by the year 2015 as 1.12 million tones. See the Table bellow

Projected Population and Fish demand/supply, 2000- 2025

YearPopulation(Million)Fish demand(Million tonnes)Fish supply domestic production(Million tonnes)Shortfall(Million tonnes)
2000114.400.870.530.34
2001117.600.890.570.32
2002121.000.920.610.31
2003124.400.950.650.30
2004127.900.970.690.28
2005131.501.000.730.27
2006135.201.030.770.26
2007139.101.060.810.25
2008143.001.090.850.24
2009147.101.120.890.23
2010151.201.150.930.22
2011155.501.180.960.21
2012159.901.221.000.22
2013164.401.251.040.21
2014169.101.291.080.21
2015173.901.321.120.20
2016178.801.361.160.20
2017183.301.391.200.19
2018189.001.441.240.20
2019194.401.481.280.20
2020199.901.521.320.20
2021205.601.561.360.20
2022211.401.611.400.21
2023217.401.651.440.21
2024223.501.701.480.22
2025229.801.751.520.23

Investment potential in Fish production

According to Fish Report 2006, Nigeria has become a major destination for imported seafood since the time the Government of Nigeria made a tariff reduction on all fishery products in 2001 from 25% to 5%. The total market demand in Nigeria according to industry sources have grown to more than one million tons per annum, making it the largest market in West Africa in the industry. There are various species of frozen fish being imported into Nigeria i.e., Herring, Horse Mackerel, Mackerel, Croaker, Sardinella, Blue Whiting, etc., and species like Mackerel (TITUS), Horse Mackerel (KOTE) and Croaker are expensive compared to the other Species. Some canned products are also imported. Tilapia and catfish are the major species farmed by local fish farmers.

The current figure (2012) on total fish demand given by the Agric ministry is 2.6 million metric tons. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) last report shows that at least 750,000 tons of fish in Nigeria is supplied by importation, while domestic supply is still at least 800,000 metric tons annually Of these, only about 200,000 metric tons come from fish farming. A table size piece of fish weighs approximately 1kg, this amount to about 200 million pieces of fish supplied by fish farming, while the remaining domestic production comes from fish capturing. This indicates a shortfall in supply of about 1.05 billion pieces of fish, which may have led to the illegal importation[iv].

Some Major Challenges of Fishing

Big and subsistence fishermen both face major challenges when fishing in our waters.

For the Marine (Deep Sea) fresh waters fishermen (who fish from 5 nautical miles), the following are their major challenge:

  • The high cost of operations
  • There are also no available centralized fishing terminals
  • Increase in sea robbery which has reduced areas for fishing by over 70 percent because a large expanse of the sea has been declared a no-go-area is one of the greatest challenges
  • The high pump price of Automotive Gas Oil (diesel)
  • High consumption rate; a vessel going to the sea takes between 58-70 metric tonnes of diesel per voyage. A voyage could take between 45-50 days.
  • The high cost of spare parts of fishing equipment as there are no provisions for subsidies at all from the government.
  • Fish firms have to operate their own cold room run on generators as they are no reliable power systems available thereby operating at a very high cost.

Investment potential in Fish production

According to Fish Report 2006, Nigeria has become a major destination for imported seafood since the time the Government of Nigeria made a tariff reduction on all fishery products in 2001 from 25% to 5%. The total market demand in Nigeria according to industry sources have grown to more than one million tons per annum, making it the largest market in West Africa in the industry. There are various species of frozen fish being imported into Nigeria i.e., Herring, Horse Mackerel, Mackerel, Croaker, Sardinella, Blue Whiting, etc., and species like Mackerel (TITUS), Horse Mackerel (KOTE) and Croaker are expensive compared to the other Species. Some canned products are also imported. Tilapia and catfish are the major species farmed by local fish farmers.

The current figure (2012) on total fish demand given by the Agric ministry is 2.6 million metric tons. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) last report shows that at least 750,000 tons of fish in Nigeria is supplied by importation, while domestic supply is still at least 800,000 metric tons annually. Of these, only about 200,000 metric tons come from fish farming. A table size piece of fish weighs approximately 1kg, this amount to about 200 million pieces of fish supplied by fish farming, while the remaining domestic production comes from fish capturing. This indicates a shortfall in supply of about 1.05 billion pieces of fish, which may have led to the illegal importation.

Some Major Challenges of Fishing

Big and subsistence fishermen both face major challenges when fishing in our waters.

Some Marine Artisanal Marketers displaying their fish produce

For the Marine (Deep Sea) fresh waters fishermen (who fish from 5 nautical miles), the following are their major challenge:

  • The high cost of operations
  • There are also no available centralized fishing terminals
  • Increase in sea robbery which has reduced areas for fishing by over 70 percent because a large expanse of the sea has been declared a no-go-area is one of the greatest challenges
  • The high pump price of Automotive Gas Oil (diesel)
  • High consumption rate; a vessel going to the sea takes between 58-70 metric tonnes of diesel per voyage. A voyage could take between 45-50 days.
  • The high cost of spare parts of fishing equipment as there are no provisions for subsidies at all from the government.
  • Fish firms have to operate their own cold room run on generators as they are no reliable power systems available thereby operating at a very high cost.

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