Rich fisheries and poor data: a catch reconstruction for Angola, 1950-2010

This is an update of an earlier catch reconstruction published by D. Belhabib and E. Divovich in 2014. Angola’s coast lies within the highly productive Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem, which leads to abundant and attractive fisheries, notably to foreign fleets. However, the data upon which any fisheries management plan would depend on are often unreliable or nonexistent, and the only two sectors that are covered by official statistics, at least partially, are industrial and artisanal fisheries. Angola’s situation became worse after independence from Portuguese rule in 1975, as monitoring was absent for over 30 years due to a tumultuous civil war. Catches for Angola were reconstructed at 181,700 t in 1950, at a peak of 683,200 t in 1972, thereafter collapsed to 131,000 t in 1976 with the departure of the Portuguese fleet and then increased steadily, while remaining at low levels during the civil war, to 516,000 t in 2007. Domestic catches were 50% higher than the catch data reported to the FAO. Although this may seem low compared to other West African countries, under-reporting increased since the departure of the Portuguese but decreased slightly after the civil war. Foreign catches represented a third to a half of total removals from Angolan waters, most of which were never reported to Angola. Around 65% of industrial catches are species that are also caught by artisanal fisheries. This overlap illustrates the importance of tackling the issue of underreporting and illegal fishing in Angolan waters.

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