Like most countries in West Africa, Nigeria’s coastal waters contain diverse species of fish, which contribute to the food and economic security of its people. Small-scale fishing operations contribute 80% of locally produced fish and support the livelihoods of 24 million Nigerians. Seventy three percent of those involved in fisheries in Nigeria are women.
The overall GDP contribution from fishing – small scale and industrial – was 0.84% in 2019 and 1.09% in 2020. The fisheries sector is therefore a route to socioeconomic development in Nigeria. But it also faces threats.
One of these is environmental pollution, primarily from the oil industry. Pollution degrades the maritime environment, destroys fish stocks and reduces the catch. Another threat is illegal fishing, as our previous research has found. Our current research continues to explore how women, in particular, are affected by and responding to these threats.
The first step is to understand the scale and complexity of illegal fishing and associated crime, and why it is happening. Recently, the Nigerian House of Representatives noted that the country loses $70 million each year to illegal fishing. This includes loss of license fees, revenue from taxation and the value that could have been accrued from legitimate fishing by local vessels. The Conversation