The future of marine fisheries in the African blue economy

The marine capture fisheries production of Africa currently stands at 7 million tonnes. It has increased in recent years thanks to the strong resurgence of West African small pelagic catches and a return to normality in the Indian Ocean following the end of Somalian piracy. The marine fish supply is increasing but the current positive growth is at a rate that cannot match the increasing population’s per capita consumption demands. With the African population expected to reach 1.7 billion in 2030 and 2.5 billion in 2050, feeding the population at today’s level of per capita consumption (7.5 kg/capita/year form marine fisheries), will require 13 million tonnes of marine fish in 2030 and almost 19 million tonnes in 2050. These figures provide an idea of the scale of the production gap: about 6 million tonnes in 2030 and 12 million in 2050. They also make it clear that much change is required in both ecosystem capacity enhancement and capture and valorisation method improvement to reach such targets. Fisheries policies, institutional structures and the skills base of fisheries agencies in many African countries have been heavily influenced by a historical focus on production and revenue maximisation year-after-year, driven by the need to generate cash for the national treasury, with little or no reference to resource productivity and sustainability. The approach has led to overexploitation of most of the major fish resources.