Fisheries and Aquaculture

Pêche & acquaculture


West Africa is a region where the fisheries and aquaculture sector plays an important role in the people’s lives. In fact, over 15% of the GDP of the ECOWAS region and nearly 3% of the economically active rural population derive their livelihoods mainly from fishing and aquaculture activities. Moreover, West Africa is the continental driving force among regional economic communities in terms of fisheries and aquaculture: it produces 32% of Africa's fish catch and 21% of its aquaculture production (57% in Sub-Saharan Africa) and has made the greatest progress in aquaculture production over the last decade.

Given the considerable challenges posed by this sector for the region, ECOWAS adopted a comprehensive strategic framework for the sustainable development of fisheries and aquaculture (CSDD PAD) in 2019 to integrate this sector into ECOWAP, the regional agricultural policy. The development of this strategic framework complements ECOWAP by addressing emerging issues in its 2025 agenda, while allowing for improved governance, consistency, and regional coordination of the overall agro-sylvo-pastoral-fisheries sector.

Therefore, the CSDD PAD contributes to the achievement of the general objective of ECOWAP through its own objective, which is to enable the fisheries and aquaculture sector to contribute to meeting the food and nutritional needs of fish-dependent communities, as well as social and economic development and poverty reduction in member states.

In this respect, the CSDD PAD contributes to all the strategic axes of ECOWAP through its six specific objectives, which are operationalized into six priority intervention areas and further articulated into expected results.

Specific objectives of the CSDD PAD

  • Fish production from catch and aquaculture has reached an optimal level and post-harvest losses have been reduced to a minimum.
  • Per capita consumption of fisheries and aquaculture products for food and nutritional security in the ECOWAS region has increased.
  • Public funding and private sector investment in the fisheries and aquaculture sector have increased.
  • Intra-regional trade in fish has been encouraged to reduce imports.
  • Strategic partnership and institutional collaboration and cooperation in West Africa, in particular in the field of research and monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) related to scientific fisheries and aquaculture as well as maritime safety, have been promoted and strengthened in a sustainable manner.
  • Human and organisational capacities in all types of fisheries and aquaculture sector management are continuously strengthened.

The development of the CSDD PAD was notably supported by the efforts of two flagship programs for fisheries and aquaculture in West Africa: (i) the ECOWAS-EU-FAO Program on the impact, resilience, sustainability, and transformation of food and nutritional security (FIRST) and (ii) the ECOWAS-EU Program on the improvement of regional fisheries governance in West Africa (PESCAO).

The CSDD PAD adopts a multi-level and multi-stakeholder approach, including the necessary political levels and stakeholders for implementation, under the leadership of the ECOWAS Commission.

Furthermore, in 2022, with continued support from the PESCAO program, ECOWAS, in partnership with UEMOA, embarked on the definition of a strategic framework for the blue economy based on a vision of efficient, inclusive, and sustainable use as well as scientific exploitation of aquatic ecosystems.