Fish is generally believed to be a comparatively cheaper and available Fish is generally believed to be a comparatively cheaper and available source of animal protein in most countries around the world, especially in Nigeria. Fish and fish products are known worldwide to be very important in the diet because of their high nutritive value and their significance on human health.

         Fish is one of the most important animal protein sources available in the tropics (Eyo, 2001). Fish consumption has impact on various stages of human life, including pregnancy and childhood.
          Despite the fact that fish is most widely consumed source of animal protein in Nigeria, the level of consumption is still far below the world average (FAOSTAT, 2005).
         The importance of fisheries to the Nigerian economy is indicated by its contribution to the cross domestic products being 5.4% in 2002 (FDF). Nigerians are high fish consumers with total consumption figures of about 1.5 million metric tons, out of which about 700,000 metric tons is imported (FAO, 2000). With such substantial proportion of the fish consumed in Nigeria imported, it is important to expand local production to meet increasing demand and save the country from avoidable negative balance of payment.
         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 the animal feed industry.
         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 was estimated that the per caput fish consumption for a day in Nigeria, in the early 1960s, was 29.1g 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. In the 1980s, about 40% of animal protein consumed in the country was derived from fish, with the relatively higher per caput consumption of fish being 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 tons for 1975, 1980 and 1985, respectively (Williams, 1986).
         While the demand for fish kept growing in Nigeria, the production of fish in the country was declining. Total consumption averaged 463. 953 and 741,221 metric tons in 1971 and 1981, respectively . This trend in fish consumption was expected to increase in the years ahead. The projected fish consumption of over 2 million metric tons 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 meant a further widening of the gap between consumption and production led to a soaring fish import bills. Adesini and Aderinola (1983) have shown that Nigeria has 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.
Year Domestic production metric tons  Imports metric tons  Total consumption metric tons  Projected human population  Per caput consumption (kg)   Source of estimate adopted from Olayide et al., (1972) the rest of the data were obtained from the Federal Department of Fisheries.

063503,03468,3567.361973465,075 71,410536,48570,
4067.621974473,22074,905548, 12572,8347.531975466,
236 114,186580,42274,6937.771976494, 766133,977628,
74376,  6998.201977504,014164,449666, 46378,
5578.511978518, 667202,208720,77580,5638.951979535,
435218,000753, 43582,6219.121980479,596234, 000713,59684,
7328.421981496, 221243,000741,22186,8978.53

Domestic production metric tons
Imports metric tons
Total consumption metric tons
Projected human population
Per caput consumption (kg)






         The Nigeria fishing industry comprises of artisanal, industrial and aquaculture. The awareness of the potential of aquaculture to contribute to domestic production and export has become high. Fish species which are commonly cultured in Nigeria include Tilapia spp, Heterobranchus bidorsalis, Clarias gariepinus, Mugil spp, Chrysichthys nigrodigitatus, Heterotis niloticus, Ophiocephalus obscura, and Cyprinus carpio. Fish can be sourced from different water bodies.
         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. A heterogeneous species of fishes characterizes these rivers and is still capable of better rational exploitation and management to enable the fisheries makes a higher contribution to the country’s fish production
         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. A heterogeneous species of fishes characterizes these rivers and is still capable of better rational exploitation and management to enable the fisheries makes a higher contribution to the country’s fish production
         Lagoon/Brackish water fisheries:
         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 sand filling activities associated with urbanization.
         Lake and reservoirs:
         175 lakes and reservoirs with an estimated total area of 136,160 hectares have been identified. These lakes and reservoirs can be 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
         The African catfish, Clarias gariepinus is the most farmed (Agbede et al., 2003).
         In spite of the great potentials of fish farming in Nigeria, Nigeria is still unable to bridge the gap in the shortfall 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 tons of fish while domestic production amounted to 350,000 tons. Fish importation makes up the balance of 400,000 tons. 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 tons 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 importation 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 tons. 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 tons based on a population of 140 million (Food and Agricultural Organization).
         The Ministry of Agriculture had indicated last year that importation of fish would be banned with the 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 tons of fish annually to satisfy the dietary needs of its citizens.
         However, 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 N500 per kg.
         Given the low price for imported fish, Nigerians even from the lowest rung of the social ladder with very poor incomes are still able to buy fish on a daily basis, meeting the protein needs of their families. 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 Agricultural 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 overall. The fleet is currently over 300 vessels, although less than 50 per cent are actively fishing and producing only about 30,000 tons of fish and approximately 7000 tons of shrimps.

         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. The Herring Mackerel (KOTE) and croaker are expensive compared to the other species. Some canned products are also imported. 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 imported frozen seafood is usually shipped to Apapa-Lagos, Port Harcourt and Warri. It 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 remainder to be paid later at an agreed time. Imported seafood products are shipped in branded 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. It has been found to be a 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. When care is not taken, the fluctuation in cold-store temperature does affect the quality of the fish adversely. In most of countries, especially Europe countries, frozen fish is pelletized and handled with forklift, whereas in Nigeria fish is off-loaded carton by carton into the lorries or trucks. In Nigeria, most frozen fish is transported in covered or open trucks but without refrigeration. One should, therefore, be careful that the duration it takes to load, transport and off-load the fish falls 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..
         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.
         The Federal fisheries unit issues import license to local firms applying to import after due certifications. The Nigeria Customs Service is the government agency for import duty collection.

         Fisheries policy in Nigeria has been developed and included as a sub-component of the agriculture sector in various National Development Plans in the 1970s and 1980s. The policy covers, both marine and inland waters.
          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
         Because of  the very  high  preference for fresh fish in the country, there is a need to promote the supply of fish to the Nigerian market.  past experience has shown that the objective of increased fish production may not be realized unless deliberate, disciplined governmental efforts are committed to the task. 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 x-rays fish consumption in Nigeria and what policy framework is needed to be put in place to meet the country’s fish demand. Meeting the nation’s fish requirement is an important  parameter of assessing our level of national development.
         From the study, it can be concluded that attention should be given to expanding the local production of fish. This can be done by, among other things, providing adequate training programmes on fish production for fish farmers; dissemination of research findings using extension agents. Fish farms should be able to access credit facilities to improve their production outputs. Therefore, government should participate in fish farming in the area of providing finance and fish farming inputs like fingerlings and fish feeds to boost local production. Fish farmers should be encouraged to be organized into formidable groups such as cooperative societies to enjoy economies of scale in the purchase of inputs and scale of output. The formation of the cooperative societies also makes it easy to source for labour. Efforts should be made to ensure the incorporation of these suggestions into an effective policy framework for the country
         If   judiciously implemented, the measures suggested in this paper will go a long way to stimulate the fish industry and make more fish available for consumption in Nigeria.
Share on Google Plus


The publications and/or documents on this website are provided for general information purposes only. Your use of any of these sample documents is subjected to your own decision NB: Join our Social Media Network on Google Plus | Facebook | Twitter | Linkedin