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Country information

Fisheries production (tonnes)


5.00 million

Inland production (2003)


Land area:

117,600 sq kms

Marine production (2007)


Fisheries contribution to GDP (FAO)


Aquaculture production (2007)


GNI per capita:

US$ 300

Total production (2007)



Description of the fisheries sector

As the newest country on the Africa continent, Eritrea is yet to fully utilize the fisheries resources within its jurisdiction. With a Red Sea coast of 1900 kms between Sudan and Djibouti, the country has valuable resources within reach of the coast plus deeper water resources in the Red Sea. Traditional inshore fisheries are undertaken by either houris (outboard engine, up to 13 metres) or sambuks (larger vessels, inboard engine up to 16 metres) with houris making up around 80% of the fleet. Industrial fishing is carried out by foreign-owned trawlers operating in Eritrean waters and purchasing licences from the national government. Estimates of the potential of the fisheries of Eritrea vary but some organisations suggest that as much as 80,000 tonnes per year could be pulled out of the Eritrean waters in a sustainable fashion. Although most fish is consumed fresh there is a basic cold chain moving fish around the country. Two internationally accredited factories operate in the coastal areas and they are involved in the export of whole and gutted fish, fillets and shrimps to markets in the EU. From a peak in 2003 the volume of exports has reduced to 10 tonnes in 2007. The Fisheries Department in Eritrea is aiming to improve standards of operations and inspections in order to ensure the correct certifications for export to the EU and other parts of the globe. The aquaculture sub-sector has seen some progress in recent years with culture of seaweed in the coastal areas.


Institutional/management arrangements

Under Article 4 of the Fisheries Proclamation (No. 104/1998) the Ministry of Fisheries (MoF) is given responsibility for “the management and development of the fisheries resource of Eritrea and for the administration of this Proclamation”. The recent establishment of an Integrated Coastal Management Unit within the MoF will improve co-ordination of the sector. The centrally owned National Fishery Corporation operates the industrial fleet and the Eritrean processing establishments.


Policy and legal framework

The key piece of legislation governing fisheries is the Fisheries Proclamation (104/1998) which was followed and supported by a range of notices. Although there is not a national fisheries policy document, the government objective of increasing production is stated in a number of national development documents: the National Economic Policy Framework and Programme (NEPFP, 1998) and the Transitional Economic Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy (TEGPRS, 2001). As the country aims to deliver the potential of the fisheries resources, a clear documented way forward is needed in order to ensure that the fisheries are developed in a sustainable fashion. Eritrea is part of the ESA configuration for the Economic Partnership Agreement negotiations with the European Union.