Fish is generally believed to be a comparatively cheaper and available source of animal protein in most countries around the world, especially among Nigeria. Fish and fish products are known world wide as a very important diet because of their high nutritive quality and significance on improving human health.
            Fish is one of the most important animal protein foods available in the tropics (Eyo 2001). In many Asian countries over 50% of the animal protein intake in Nigeria; the African proportion is 17.5%.

            (Williman et al 1998). Fish consumption has impact on human being throughout various stages of human life, including pregnancy and  childhood. Gomna and Rana (2007 reported an annual fish consumption of 5.8 and 9kg/caput/years to meat in Lagos State West Nigeria. Despite the fact that fish is most consumed and source of animal protein in Nigeria, the level of consumption is still far below the world average (Faostat, 2005) In addition, substantial proportion of the fish consumed in Nigeria is still being imported. Hence, the need to expand local production to meet increasing demand and safe the country from avoidable negative balance of payment.
 The important of fisheries to the Nigeria economy is indicated by its contribution to the cross domestic products being 5.4% in 2002 (FDF).
Nigerians are high fish consumers with total current consumption figures of about 1.5 million metric tons. With an annual fish import figure of about 700,000 metric tons (FAD, 2000).
The contribution of fisheries to the nation economy is very significant in term of employment income generation, poverty alleviation, foreign exchange earnings and provisions of raw materials for animal feed industry.
Meanwhile the study of fish consumption is worth while not only in determining national and localized fish requirement but in the final analysis in satisfying public  demand for fish production.
            Fish, an important source of animal protein, is in increasing demand in Nigeria. This increase in demand is due to a number of factors such as high population growth rate, increasing national income and increasing cost of meat and other sources of animal protein. It has been estimated that the per caput fish consumption for day in Nigeria, as early as the 1960’s, was 29.1gm; this yields 2.6gm of animal protein which represents 35% of the per caput consumption of livestock products and 30.8% of animal protein intake (Olayide, 1972). This per caput fish consumption was higher than any other livestock product in the country during the period. Currently, about 40% of animal protein consumed in the country is derived from fish (Nigeria, 1980) the relatively high per caput consumption of fish has been attributed to greater availability of this product at relatively cheaper prices (Osajuyigbe, 1981). The total demand for fish in Nigeria was estimated at 0.940, 1,150 and 1,450 million tones respectively in 1975. 1980 and 1985 (Williams, 1986). While the demand for fish growing in Nigeria, the production of fish in the country was declining. Although the target total domestic fish production were respectively 0.850, 1,060 and 1,1200 million tones for the years 1975, 1980 and 1985 the index of fish production actually fell from example 115-4 in 1983 to 1985 (Central Bank of Nigeria 1985, p. 16). The widening gap between domestic production of fish and demand was made up by imports.
            As shown in the table, total fish imports rose form 54416 metric tones on 1971 to 245,000 metric tones in 1981, with an increase of  13.0% during this period. Total consumption averaged 5.0%, from 463. 953 to 741,221 metric tones in 1971 and 1981 respectively . Between 1971 and 1981, per caput consumption average 3.5%. this trend in fish consumption is expected to increase in the years ahead. The projected fish consumption of over 2 million metric tones by the year 2000 and a project per caput consumption of 14.49kg for that year, which in the face of a declining index of fish production means a further widening of the gap between consumption and production hence soaring fish import bills Adesini and Aderinola 1983 have shown that Nigeria have a relatively high marginal propensity to consume imported fish and that the volume of fish imports was very responsive to changes in socio-economic factors such as population, national income and domestic fish production.

Domestic production metric tones  
Imports metric tons  
Total consumption metric tone  
Projected human population  
Per caput consumption (kg)   
Source of estimate adopted from Olayide et al., (1972) the rest of the data were obtained form the federal department of fisheries.

Projected human population
Project per caput consumption  
Project fish demand (million tones)

            United Nations projection for population growth indicate that the region wall have 700 million inhabitants by year 2000 and 915 million by the year 2010. Assuming that current per-caput supply can be maintained, apparent total fish food consumption would reach a minimum of about 4.7 million tons in 2000 and 6.2 million tons in 2010. Compared to current suppliers of about 4 million tons in 1994. this represent gaps in the range of 0.7 million and 2.2 million tons for 2000 and 2010 respectively.
            Resources exist to meet at current per caput supply level, theoretical demand at least by the year 2000, but only necessarily by the year 2010. This is based on the global production figure of over 5.5 million tons achieved in 1990. (discards and subsistence fisheries excluded but foreign catches includes) and the further assumption that production could be slightly increased. The overall potential of  capture fisheries being conservatively estimated above 7 million tons. Further more by maintaining its present growth rate, aquaculture production contribute about another 280000 tons by the year 2010.
            If Nigeria adopt polices to increase per caput consumption to 8.5kg/caput
(its average level in the eighties) supply would need to expand significantly up to 6 million by the year 2000 and to 7.8 million tons by 2010. This scenario is unlikely to happen without relying on massive imports. After the year 2010, expected change in population growth may significantly modify demand trends.
            The Nigeria fishing industry comprises of artisanal, industrial and aquaculture. The awareness on the potential of aquaculture to contribute to domestic production and export. Fish species which are commonly cultured include tilapia spp, heterobranchus bodorsails, clarias gariepinus, mugie spp, chrysichthys nigrodigitatus, heterotis niloticus, ophcocephalus obscure, cyprinus carpio and megalo spp. Fish can be source from different water.
Rivers: there are 37 rivers in Nigeria. The Niger, the most important originated from Sierra Leone in the  eastern side of the Futa Jallon Mountains with the Benue as it most important tributary. The total drainage area of the Niger and Benue Rivers is 222,000 square miles. The largest of these rivers is the Kamadugu Yobe, of which Hadejia is a tributary. The fisheries of these rivers, also characterized by a heterogeneous species of fishes, is still capable of better rational exploitation and management to enable the fisheries make a higher contribution to the countries fish production
Lagoon/Brackish water fisheries:
            An intricate system of water-ways made up of lagoons and creeks extend along the coast of Niger Delta. The most important of these lagoons and creeks are: the Badagry creek, Lagos Lagoon, Epe and Lekki Lagoons. They are important media of significant artisanal fisheries exploitation and had contributed significantly to the fisheries resources of Nigeria in the past. However, in recent past, there has been a serious and rapid decline of the fisheries resources of this zone, principally due to dredging and san filling activities associated with urbanization.
Lake and reservoirs
175 lakes and reservoirs with estimated total area of 136, 160 hectares have been identified. These lakes and reservoirs can e better exploited through deliberate stocking and better management for high production.
Domestic Production of Fish in Nigeria
            Fish farming or culture (an aspect of aquaculture) is an integral component of the overall agricultural production system in Nigeria. The major species cultured in Nigeria include tilapia, catfish and carp. However the African catfish clarias gariepinus is the most farmed (Agede et al, 2003).
            In spite of the great potentials of fish farming in Nigeria, Nigeria is still unable to bridge the gap in the short fall between total domestic fish production and the total domestic fish demand in Nigeria, total domestic fish production  is far less than the total domestic demand.
            According to Zango-Daura (2000) as cited by Rahji and Teslem Bada 2010 the country requires 750,000 tones of fish while domestic production amounted to 350,000 tones. Fish importation makes up the balance of 400.000 tones. Importation is thus often used to bridge the fish supply demand gap (Rahji et al. 2001). According to zango-Daura (2000) Nigeria requires about 1-5 million tones of fish annually. This is what is needed to meet FAO’S recommended minimum fish consumption rate of 12.5 kilograms per head yearly to satisfy basic protein needs. For now, the unsatisfied demand will continue to be met through importation unless policy actions are geared towards improving domestic productions by providing solution to factors militating against aquaculture in country.
            However, the huge sum of money spent by Nigeria annually in fish importation could be used to invest in fish farming. Nigeria can substitute fish with domestic production to create jobs, reduce poverty in rural area where 70% of the population lives and ease the balance of payment.
            Nigeria spends about N50 billion on importations of frozen fish to augment shortfall in domestic production, put at about 600,000 metric tones. Meanwhile, the demand for fish and fishery products in Nigeria has been on the increase with supply not meeting up with the demand current projected fish demand, according to the agriculture minister it is estimated at 2.66 million metric tones based on a population of 140 million (food and Agriculture organization)
            The ministry of Agriculture had indicated last year that importation of fish would be banned altogether so as to aim at saving foreign exchange and promoting local farming, but warned that an outright ban would have profound consequences for the people who would be abruptly denied their sole source of protein.
            Nigeria produced only 30 per cent of the country’s requirements. Nigeria requires 2.66 million tones of fish annually to satisfy the dietary needs of its citizens. The demand is growing with the population growth and increasing purchasing power.
            Out of this, only a paltry 700,000 tones is produced locally, thus includes only 200,000 tones from aquaculture, further in case of locally farmed fish, the fish feed accounts for 70 percent of the cost of production which is imported, draining valuable foreign exchange.
            However, the imported fish is available to the people at hugely lower prices compared to consumers in other countries. Locally farmed fish is nearly double the price of imported fish making it a luxury for an average Nigeria to consume. ‘’for instance, the imported frozen fish is available  to the people at an average of N150-250 per kg, where as the locally farmed catfish sells for a whopping N5000 per kg.
            Given thus low price for imported fish, Nigerians even from the lowest thresholds of income are still able to buy fish on a daily basis, meeting the protein needs of themselves and their children.
            The imported fish is cheap because in European and pacific waters, there is an abundance of fish, given years of controlled fishing and best practices for a thriving fish population. The stock of fish in Nigeria waters is negligible for trawling. Most of the shrimps and prawns caught locally are being exported to Europe at higher prices.
            According to the food and Agriculture organization of the United Nations (FAO) figures, Nigeria industrial trawl fishery is dominated by trawlers using 400-600 hp engines and vessels of 45-110 meter length over all. The fleet is currently over 300 vessels, although less than 50 per cent are actively fishing and producing only above 30,000 tones of fish and approximately 7000 tones of shrimps, annual fish demand based on various projections is about 1.5 million tones. This is conservative estimate based on estimated annual consumption of 11 to 12kg/caput/annum, excluding leakages to neighbouring countries and making Nigeria’s total fish demand the highest in Africa.

                   Since the time the government of Nigeria made a tariff reduction on all fishery products from 25% to 5% in 2001, Nigeria has become a major destination for imported seafood. There are various species of frozen fish being imported into Nigeria i.e., herring 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,                            however, portion of frozen fish is sold at traditional open markets. Wholesalers or retailers are located of these markets but they purchase from importers or distributors cold storage facilities. Those owing usually, small cold store located within the market area, have the product delivered directly to them.
            The characteristic and price of same species of fish differs based on the country of origin example, which country the fish is caught. Hence the price of the same species will differ based on the country of origin for example, the Mackerel (TITUS) caught in European waters is more expensive than the Mackerel (KAMPALA) caught in the Mauritania waters. The imported frozen seafood is usually shipped to Apapa-Lagos, Port Harcourt and is inspected, passed through custom clearance and after clearance the products are transported in refrigerated trucks to cold storage. Warehouse located within Lagos and other urban centers. Wholesalers, usually have their cold storage facilities and purchase as the product is offloaded or take stock from importers cold stores.
            For health reasons, the Nigerian Government classifies port clearance for fish landings at Nigeria’s ports as “priority”. Importers are allowed to transport their consignments to their warehouses even upon a partial payment of duty and port charges (usually 80%) the reminder to be paid later at an agreed time. Imported seafood products are shipped in branched boxes package of 20kg, 25kg and 30kg and the number of fish per box varies with fish sizes – small, medium or large which range from 80 to 120 pieces per cartoon. Wholesalers often site their cold storage facilities in the traditional markets. More than 80 percent of distribution channel members in Nigeria’s traditional markets are retailers. The product prices are about 20-30 percent lower in the traditional markets than in convenience stores and supermarkets, pricing in Nigeria’s traditional markets is usually negotiated on the spot.
            Meanwhile, the federal fisheries unit issues import license to local firms applying to imports after due certifications. The Nigeria customs service is the government agency for import duty collection.
            Furthermore, it is also very difficult task to maintain low temperature of the cold stores due to frequent power failure, manual loading process (where temperature is lost due to opening and closing of the door) failure of machinery due to voltage fluctuation etc. if care is not taken, the fluctuation in cold-store temperature will affect the quality of the fish adversely. In most of countries, especially Europe countries, frozen fish is palletized and handled with forklift, whereas in Nigeria fish is off-loaded carton by carton into the Lorries. The pilferage at the port side is too much for each vessel, especially when high value fish like mackerel/croaker is discharged.
            In Nigeria, mostly frozen fish is transported in covered or open trucks but without refrigeration. Hence, one should be careful about the time it takes, to load, transport and off-load the fish within a reasonable time frame. If by any chance the fish is not offloaded on the same day and left outside the cold stores overnight, the recovery from that fish will be less than 50% of the cost value.

            Fisheries policy in Nigeria has been developed and included as a sub-component of the agriculture sector in various National development plans in 1970s and 1980s. The policy covers, both marine and inland waters.
            Firstly, while it is true that fish constitutes the largest single source of animal protein in the country as pointed out earlier in the study. The estimated per caput protein intake per day derived from animal sources is grossly lower than national requirement. Yet protein from animal sources are more nutrition’s and better utilized by the body than those form plant food (Edward, 1980). There is therefore the need to pursue more vigorously the objective of increasing the daily per caput intake of fish.
            This rising demand for fish in the face of declining performances of the fishery sub sector points to the need for stepping up domestic fish production in the country.
Secondly, the very high preference for fresh fish in the country, there is a need for promoting the supply of fish to Nigerian market.
Thirdly, past experience have shown that the objective of increased fish production may not be realized unless deliberate, discipline governmental efforts are committed to the task. In the 1970-74 national Development plan for example, an optimistic fish demand target of N1 million was set and a substantial capital investment allocation made to the fishery sub sector. However, less than 56% of the demand target was realized by the end of the plan, which points not only to the need for a bold fish production programme but also an effective implementation of development plans. A bold programme of fish production calls for, among other things, the provision of highly subsided fishing inputs such as outboard engines and fishing nets. in this regard, increased efforts should be made toward the establishment of local assembly and manufacturing plans for the domestic production of these inputs. Efforts to develop fish caning enterprises and other fish-based industries should also be intensified. These measures, when combined with the provision of adequate processing, storage , transport facilities, and the provision of adequate training programmes for indigenous fishermen will go a long way increasing the local supply of fish, and hence in meeting the consumption requirement of fish in Nigeria.

This paper discusses fish consumption in Nigeria to determine more accurately the country’s fish demand with a view to satisfying public fish consumption. Meeting the nation’s requirement has immense contributions to make to process of national development.
Based on the finding of the study, Adequate training programme on fish production should be organsiaed for fish farmers in the study areas for the dissemination of research findings to fill the gap created by poor contraction with extension agents. The ownership structure revealed that most of the fish farms were owned by individuals who had little access to finance. Therefore, government participation in fish farming should be encouraged in the area to boost the quantity of fish available for consumption. Fish farmers should be organized into formidable groups such as cooperative to enjoin economics of scale in the purchase of inputs and scale of output. The formation of the cooperative should also be done towards ensuring labour availability. Efforts should be made to ensure the effective implantation of these plans. If judiciously implemented, the measures suggestion in this paper will go a long way to stimulate fish industry and fish intake in Nigeria.

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