Fishing operations are largely artisan and of a subsistence nature and are concentrated in near-shore areas. Commercial fisheries are confined to indigenous firms, with or without foreign-contracted partnership.
Aquaculture in the Sudan dates back to the early 1990s with respect to mariculture and to 1953 for freshwater culture. Considerable research emphasis has been devoted to the development of oyster cultivation as an activity, in order to reduce stress on the natural oyster population, thereby furthering consistent and steady production and improving the socio-economic status of the rural population. This prolonged research has culminated in the verification and adoption of sound and viable alternative culture technologies that have paved the way for the expansion of oyster family farms along the coast, as well as encouraging large investment enterprises to back artificial pearl production.
Freshwater fish culture is primarily based on the pond culture of the indigenous species Oreochromis niloticus. Other local species such as Lates nilotius, Labio spp and Clarias lazira have been experimented with, but have not as yet been released to farmers. Exotic species have been introduced for experimental culture in combination with Oreochromis niloticus (e.g. common carp), or for use as biological control agents for the eradication of aquatic weeds that infest the irrigation canals of large agricultural structures (grass carp). Freshwater fish culture has not as yet developed into a vertically- integrated economic activity, despite the fact that the prerequisites for it are available. Several state and private sector farms were established around the capital, Khartoum and other towns in various states. The current recorded production of these farms has not exceeded 1 000 tons/year.
Utilization of the catch
Finfish is marketed and consumed fresh (63%), sun-dried (28%) or wet salted (9%). The fresh fish is transported from distant fishing grounds to consumption areas in the capital, Khartoum and other towns, either chilled or refrigerated. Sun-dried fish is mostly marketed in rain-fed and mechanized agricultural structures. Wet salted fish (mainly Hydrocyon sp, Alestes sp and Mugil sp) is intended for both local consumption and export.
Shells of the mother-of-pearl oyster Pinctada margaritifera and the gastropod Trochus dentatus are exported to some European countries. Other mollusc shells are harvested and sold locally as a source of calcium for poultry feed or as souvenirs.
Shrimps and prawns are sold locally as a highly-valued delicacy food, particularly in the better-class hotels.
Fish by catch as well as discards are utilized on a small scale for fishmeal production.
According to estimates for the year 2000, the per caput supply of fish is 1.64 kg/year. This figure is not likely to substantially increase, in view of the population growth rate which is currently estimated at 2.84% per annum. A possible avenue for increasing fish production is through the expansion of aquaculture and the increase of productivity per hectare.
Status of the Fishing Industry
The contribution of fisheries to the Sudan GDP is presently marginal. The per caput supply is only 1.64 kg /year, which is mostly obtained by capture fish landings. The aquaculture industry is not developed as yet. Because of their basic characteristics, the Sudan inland and marine capture fisheries are of a small-scale and semi-industrial nature. If properly managed, these types of fisheries would be qualified to satisfy subsistence and provide a good margin for large investments, particularly in the areas of freshwater fishing, mariculture and off-shore capture fisheries and their related facilities and supplies. The magnitude and trend of fish resource utilization and the level of development of the fisheries sector is handicapped by as number of problems and constraints. Some of these are mentioned below:
– The civil war disturbances in southern Sudan have jeopardized government plans for the proper utilization of the huge fish resources and for community development.
– Certain other important fishing grounds are either suffering from over-fishing or are virtually untapped.
– No attention has been paid to the development of rainwater bodies (totalling 1 775 hafirs) within the savanna belt in west, central and eastern Sudan, which would augment fish production and form a basis for rural community development.
– Aquaculture is only playing a marginal role, despite the availability of its basic prerequisites.
– The low finfish production has coincided with high post-harvest losses resulting from improper handling at sea and during distribution.
– Insufficient infrastructure facilities and institutional capacities.