Business & Industry

Feb 1, 2018

FEEDING THE WHOLE WORLD

Mauritania, one of the poorest countries in Africa, has one of the largest marine parks in the world. The Bank of Arguin, where are nested 30% of migratory birds, the Imaraguen people live from the fishing business, maintains techniques founded by the Portuguese in the 15th century and live in a region which is a world heritage site.

By NARUTO SHIZUKA

From the entry of the Senegal River to the tip of Cap Blanc, the Mauritanian coastline extends for a maritime belt of 720 km long that "enter" by the Atlantic Ocean. The Islamic Republic of Mauritania offers an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 200 nautical miles, a 234000m2 surface and a continental shelf of 39000 km, being known by the abundance, diversity and importance of its commercial fish stocks. There, indeed about 600 species of fish were inventoried, being more than 200 that can be the object of a commercial operation.

This marine wealth can be explained by very favorable-climatic conditions, in particular, a big rise of cold water that is at the root of a strong primary production and an important marine chain development. This wealth exceptionally located explains also its role of "nursery" which plays the great depth of the eastern part of the Bank of Arguin, where marine species find privileged conditions of reproduction and development in an area virtually unpolluted and which houses one of the largest marine protected Areas in West Africa (Banc d'Arguin National Park).

The fisheries sector continues to be one of the strategic sectors of the national economy under different aspects. The trade balance in products of the sea is largely surplus to the extent that the industry is export-oriented and the value of imports is almost null in the 2008-2011 period, and exports of fishery products played among 20 to 27% of the value of exports (without oil), thus contributing significantly in the contribution in foreign currency for the country.

The assessment of the contribution of the fisheries sector to GDP is limited to the creation of wealth in the catch process to date. This excludes the proportion of upstream (catch) and downstream (harvest) indirect economies to the fisheries sector on the one hand, and certain income from the fisheries agreements, on the other hand.

The fisheries sector directly employs between 42 000 and 43 000 people, with 80% of the jobs coming from artisanal fishing. For this number of fishermen, it is important to add about 13000 indirect jobs generated by fisheries-related activities, notably in the harvest sector. In total, the fisheries sector generates about 55000 jobs, representing approximately 3% of the active population in Mauritania.

The whole of the fishery resources under Mauritania's jurisdiction represents an admissible catch potential of between 1.5 and 1.8 million tonnes, taking into account the variability of the oceanographic and environmental conditions of the large marine ecosystem of the Canary stream.

Craft Fishing

The national fleet of artisanal fishing (which continues to privilege the octopus) has been in continuous growth for many years. The number of boats went from 4000 in 2007 to more than 7000 in 2013. In 2010, on 5910 registered boats, the inactivity rate increased to 26% in the coastal assembly.

Foreign coastal fishing regularly working in Mauritanian waters is mainly comprised of siege fishing units (a unit consisting of two vessels), favouring small species fishing.

Industrial fishing

The herd of the industrial fleet operating in Mauritania fluctuated between 50 and 100 ships a year in the period between 2006-2013, with about 50 ships benefited from a fishing licence.

Having reached a peak of current catches of 1.2 million tonnes in 2010, catches of small species, although they are always considerable seem, however, to be in constant decline after the withdrawal of an important part of the foreign fleets they fish on the free license board. The catches of industrial fishing were of the order of 600000 tonnes in 2013. 

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