Côte d’Ivoire: fisheries catch reconstruction, 1950-2010

 

Côte d’Ivoire had a strong industrial fleet both in capacity and reach. Despite the decline of the sector the country still held a particular place within West Africa due to its harbour and shore facilities, which have made Abidjan the second most important fishing port in the region. Its industrial fleets returned to the waters of Côte d’Ivoire after West African countries declared their EEZ which, along with large foreign fleets, contributed to over-exploiting the country’s EEZ. Despite all this, official data suggest catches are increasing, which raises doubts as to their reliability. Moreover, official data do not include a large part of artisanal and subsistence catches, and also omits discards and a relatively important part of the industrial catch. They include, on the other hand, the foreign catches of ‘faux poissons’ from the water of neighboring countries, but labeled domestic fish when landed in Côte d’Ivoire. To estimate total catches and improve their geographical resolution, we reconstructed them by sector, considering effort, catch per effort, and geographical distribution of catches and their taxonomic identity. Total catches from Côte d’Ivoire EEZ were estimated at 7.06 million t between 1950 and 2010, which is 2.67 times the data supplied to the FAO (this accounts for 374,200 t of ‘faux poissons’ in the data supplied to FAO). Domestic catches declined, in contrast to the increase suggested by official data, but the catch of foreign fleets, mostly illegal, increased. Some social consequences for Côte d’Ivoire are outlined.

 

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