Nigeria’s neglected fishing industry, and the men feeding millions with crude tools

Written by on September 15, 2021

The prevalence of artisanal fishing is an indicator of why Nigeria’s fishing industry is underperforming.

When Inibe Alupe graduated from Niger Delta University in 2008, he looked forward to a job in an office after undergoing the one-year compulsory national youth service.

Over 12 years after, Mr Alupe still has no white-collar job. He has since returned to his native Ogbia in Bayelsa State, a riverine community, to do what knew how to do while growing up: fishing.

“I left school in 2008 and served Nigeria, but since then I have no reasonable source of income,” he told PREMIUM TIMES.

An increasing number of young educated Nigerians are taking up fish farming, mainly as a result of lack of white or blue-collar jobs, and their presence is an indicator of the sector’s potential to attract skilled manpower capable of driving growth in the industry.

So far, that is where the good news ends. For a country with vast inland water bodies and coastline measuring over 800 km, Nigeria’s fishing industry is significantly underperforming.

Nigeria’s household fish consumption stood at 13.3 kg/capita/year, significantly lower than the world’s average of 20.3 kg/capita/year, according to the United Nation’s food agency, FAO.

Beyond the problem of poverty that stops many from affording needed sea food, the country suffers a major fish supply-demand gap problem.

A 2016 National Bureau of Statistics report estimated Nigeria’s annual fish demand at 3.32 million metric tonnes, with local production at 1.12 million metric tonnes. That year, Nigeria spent N125 billion (US$625 million) on fish imports


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