The inland fisheries are based on the Nile River and its tributaries, contributing over 90% of the estimated production potential of the country. The Sudd swamps in the south and the man-made lakes on the White Nile (Gebel Aulia Reservoir), the Blue Nile (Roseires and Sennar Reservoirs), Atbara River (Khashm El Girba Reservoir) and the Main River Nile (Lake Nubia) represent the major fishing localities with respect to fish resource magnitude and exploitation thrust. The Sudd region harbours an estimated fish potential of 75 000 tons/year with a productivity of 110 kg/ha. However, the civil war disturbances, the dense cover of aquatic macrophytes and the rudimentary fishing gear and techniques had a negative impact on fish production, which did not exceed 30 000 tons annually (43%). The Gebel Aulia Reservoir has a fish potential of 15 000 tons/year and a current production of 13 000 tons/year (86.7%). Roseires Reservoir has a potential of 1 700 tons/year and fish landings of 1 500 tons/year (88.2%). Sennar Reservoir has an estimated fish capacity of 1 100 tons/year and an actual fish yield of 1 000 tons/year (91%). Lake Nubia’s potential is 5 100 tons/year, but is able to produce only 1 000 tons of fish annually (19.6%). Production from other Nile River localities has been estimated at 4 000 tons/year.
The artisan craftsmen from different ethnic groups carry out fishing activities in the inland waters. They are generally characterized by their low socio-economic profile and fishing capacity. The majority of the fishing craft used by the Nilotic and Falata tribes are dugout canoes maneuvered by bamboo staves. Arab tribes use oar-propelled or motor-driven wooden and steel boats.
The predominant fishing gear includes active and passive gillnets, seine nets, trammel nets, long lines, hook and line, cast nets and baskets. Over 100 fish species have been reported to prevail in the inland waters with different degrees of occurrence in the various localities. The commercially important fish are Lates niloticus, Bagrus bayad, B. docmac, (first class), Oreochromis niloticus, Labeo spp, Barbus binny, Mormyrus spp, Distichodus spp (second class), Hydrocyon spp and Alestes spp (for wet salting).
Although the inland fisheries are largely artisan in nature, a steady increase in market-oriented activities has occurred in recent years; particularly in the White Nile and Lake Nubia.
The territorial rights of Sudan on the Red Sea are based on an Exclusive Economic Zone of 91 600 sq km, including a shelf area of 22 300 sq km. Despite the high biodiversity of aquatic life, exploitation emphasis has been historically placed on the harvesting of wild mollusks and finfish. Both activities are largely of a traditional and subsistence nature. The other highly valued resources are either untapped or only occasionally fished. As for finfish, fishing activities are carried out by the artisan sector using traditional gear, craft and fishing techniques and frequenting near-shore areas. Investments in commercial fisheries are limited in magnitude, with a tendency to increase in recent years using small and medium-size trawlers and purseiners. Over 236 species of bony fish have been reported in the marine waters of Sudan. However, 60-70% of the finfish catches are attributed to Epinephallus aerolatus, Lotijanus bohar, L. gibbus, Lethrinus spp, Caranx spp, Plectiopomus maculates, Aprion spp, Scomberomorus commersoni and Mugil spp. Finfish potential is estimated at 10 000 tons/year, while the reported yield amounts to 5000 tons/year.
Diving in search of wild mollusks is an ancient occupation for the majority of the coast population. The targeted species are the mother-of-pearl oyster Pinctada margaritifera, Trochus dentatus, Strombus and Lambia spp, which is exported to Europe as raw material for button manufacturing, cosmetics and inlay works.
Crustacean resources have not been quantified. Small-size trawlers, for the most part, carry out fishing activities targeting shrimps in the fishing grounds south (e.g. Delta Toker and Agieg) and north (e.g. Arbat) of Port Sudan. Eight species of shrimp have been recorded here, of which Peneaus semisulcatus, P. latisulcatus and Metapeneaus monocerus form the bulk of the harvest.