Eritrea’s Unexploited Fishing Treasures: Challenges and Opportunities

News Opinions

With 1200km of Red Sea coastline and more than 359 islands, Eritrea has major fish resources. It traditionally exports fish as well as shrimp, around 10 tonnes a year, to Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Greece. From 2010 on wards, the Government make export of marine products to Europe a priority following the major investments made in the past decade in new factories, fishing vessels and landing sites. Eritrea need to win back fish export markets by identifying potentials and resolving the challenges. [SFP]
By Yosief Abraham Z.,

After a new era has signaled on May 24 of 1991, soon, developmental endeavors started storming the country ubiquitously. Following to the establishment of a government body to look and run after the Eritrean maritime treasures at the Ministry level, by the same coin, researches published to usher that the Eritrean Red Sea is well treasured with a capacity carrying out 60 – 80,000 tons fish annually. 

To accompany the dream, therefore, practical measurements were under way and have been branded with various results. After the official declaration of the independence on May 24 of 1993, it was in 1994 that Eritrea could to exploit 2,646 tons of fishes from its maritime empires. This was yet below the potency and had its own remarks for strengthening relentless efforts to revitalize the sector enormously. After six years, the Ministry of Marine Resources and Fisheries depicted that the portion of fishes caught increased to 13,000 tons. And still that, this has been the top bench-mark line.

In fact, quoted to the speech by President Isaias, a research by the College of Marine Sciences and Technology shows that enabling fishing 25,000 tons of fish at yearly basis has the ability to substitute Eritrea’s food demand from agricultural domains. Notwithstanding to the zealous efforts, however, the challenges to exploit the maritime treasures is in place. In July 2004, demographic status of the Local Government asserted that the number of population in the Northern and Southern Red Sea regions of the country was 302,000, and, amid this fact, 1% of them were only engaging in fisheries activities.

Yet, the roles of those traditional fishers have been too low and take various efforts to armor their armoring influences. In comparison with the era of 1950s hot political movements which had then counted over 20,000 fisheries, our current challenge to emancipate this domain at fully scale has been undeniable and intensive effort demanding. Recent activities by the ministry of Marine Resources expect to have its own deterministic role in reshaping the impacts of our traditional fisheries constructively.

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In 1993, sponsored by three bodies of the United Nations, the Government of Eritrea initiated the “Semhar-Assab Project” and resultantly, one jetty, two ice producing industries and two cooling rooms were constructed. For resurrecting this unexploited domain, soon, gas distribution center and other similar facilitation came true in Massawa and Assab significantly. Similar supports from the Government of Japan had also its own purposeful results in managing successful activities which then had appreciative remarks in polishing the fishing styles of the residents in the route from Assab to Berasole.

Efforts to excel Eritrea’s fishing potentials, the government intensified its panoptic movements, and other foreign companies also joined the government in its determination to surpass the undeniable and lagging-off challenges.

Directives and hortative guidelines and declarations soon helped the establishment of National Fishing Companies like Keih Bahri, Amin, Thomas, Global Captain Feres, and Massawa which some of them have accumulated experiences to reincarnate the spirit of full scale resurrection if the necessary paths followed.

The challenges, therefore, are not controversial. Encouraging and offering training opportunities for the traditional fisheries is not subject to be undermined. Still, they are not well equipped with the sophisticated means thereby to exploit our marine treasures in balanced way. Complains of those fisheries as far as concerning to neighbor countries exploiters have to get its right and effective respond.

In addition to this, the Eritrea Red Sea which is both free of any pollution and over-exploitation has been magnetizing modern trawlers from illegal fisheries. Arming the Eritrean Naval Forces with fundamental but determinant security accessories is also what expects to come true. Undeniably, the vast sovereign of Eritrean Red Sea demands a huge budgetary offer and personnel to ensure its dignity once and for long time thereby for impeding illegal fisheries and their affiliates.

Regaining the yards of our past time experiences for exporting our marine products to countries like Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, France, German, Greece, Israel, Kenya and other Nordic States, is also another possible but challenging aspect in excelling our potencies in the fishing industry.

Capturing 80 illegal fishing ships with in the first five months of 2004, for instance, gave its own creditable message: working hard, in balanced way, to exploit our marine resources and ensuring functional paths to develop it as part of the national package for rising in the developmental field.