Amhara Regional Agricultural Research Institute (ARARI) Ethiopia
Received: 25 September, 2014; Accepted: 21 February, 2015; Published: 22 February, 2015
Dereje Tewabe, Bahir-Dar Fisheries and Other Aquatic Life Research Center, P O. Box 794, Bahir-Dar, Ethiopia, Email:
Tewabe D (2015) Status of Lake Tana Commercial Fishery, Ethiopia. Int J Aquac Fishery Sci 1(1): 012-020. DOI: 10.17352/2455-8400.000003
© 2015 Tewabe D. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Commercial fishery; Sustainable management; Monofilament; Spawning seasons; Spawning grounds
The status of Lake Tana Fishery was evaluated from analysis of commercial catch data of number I fishers cooperative. The data collection has been carried out from September 2003 to September 2009. Results indicated that Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus), African catfish (Clarias gariepinus) and species flock of endemic, large Labeobarbus spp. were the three main species groups targeted by commercial gillnet fishery of Lake Tana and form 65 %, 20 % and 15 % of the annual catch compositions of fish species during the study period respectively. There was significant variability among sampling years encompassing temporal aspects. Especially, commercial catch of O. niloticus were significantly booming up to 2007 and declining after wards. The most likely explanations for the declining catch of O. niloticus and others are the illegal use of undersized monofilament gillnet imported from Sudan town (Gelabat) and the harmful increase of the commercial gillnet fishery targeting the spawning aggregations of L. barbus spp. and C. gariepinus in the river mouths and littoral areas. The observed decline in the commercial catch of O. niloticus and others stress the need for the urgent development of a management plan focusing on controlling import of undersized monofilament gillnet, fishing effort and gear restrictions in the river mouths and major tributaries during the breeding seasons and implementing the regional fishery legislation.
Ethiopia is endowed with significant area of inland water, including about 7,400 km2 of lakes and reservoirs, and about 7,000 km of rivers. Estimates of maximum sustainable yields might allow a production growth between 30,000 to 40,000 tones per year, from the main lakes only. The rivers fishery potential is roughly estimated at about 5000t/yr. however, the estimated annual production in 1992/93 increased by about 30 % leading to an estimated fish harvest of 6,500 tones .
As a matter of fact, the incidence, depth and severity of food poverty are much more serious in Ethiopia. The national food security strategy has therefore, been formulated with an overall objective to raise the level of food self reliance nationally and ensure household food security strategy of the regions, much more comprehensive packages of interventions are needed to ensure food security in the regions. It can be stressed that the fisheries and aquaculture sub-sector of the livestock sector can play a significant role for the regions food security as far as resources of fishery is numerous.
Lake Tana, the source of the Blue Nile, is Ethiopia's largest lake; it probably was formed during late Pliocene or early Pleistocene times. It now covers an area of about 3150 km2 and has an average depth of 8 m, with a maximum of 14 m. It is situated at an altitude of 1830 m and can be characterized as oligo-mesotrophic Lake  with a very truncated fish fauna  that is it is poor in species and families. There is only one representative of the family Cichlidae: Oreochromis niloticus, a very wide spread species in Africa. The three species of clarias (Family Claridae), that  describes for the lake (Including the endemic Clarias tsanensis , have recently been synonyms to Clarias gariepinus, the most common member of this genus .
The Largest family in the lake is the Cyprinid, which is represented by three genera: Varicorhionius, with one single species V. beso Garra, for which  describes two species in Lake Tana: G. Quadrimaculata and G.dembensis and the last well described genus of Cyprinidae fishes from Lake Tana Barbus, which has been revised several times as a result seventeen morphotypes of lake Tana Labeobarbus were identified. According to  to prevent extinction of the unique Barbus species flock, effort control restrictions near the river mouths during August-September (peak breeding period) have to be implemented immediately to protect the vulnerable spawning aggregations. Since its introduction in 1986, little has been documented about the development and characterstics of the commercial gillnet fisheries and development of the three targeted species groups, L. Barbus, C. gariepinus, and O. niloticus. This lack of knowledge about the natural resources and the impact of the commercial gillnet fishery is one of the main reasons why to date no management plan or fisheries regulations exist in L. Tana. However, in recent years fishers have noted a drastic reduction of their catches in L. Tana. This stresses the need for sound data on Lake Tana's fish and fisheries in order to provide a scientific base for advice on development of a management plan and fisheries regulations. Therefore the purpose of the study is to know the general trend of catch compositions and weight of Lake Tana commercial fishery and evaluate status of fishing activities in Lake Tana.
Objectives of the Study
The major objective of the study was to generate baseline scientific information/ data about economically important and commonly found species for management and sustainable utilization of the resources, and recommend ways and means of conserving the diversity and stock of the icthyofauna of L. Tana.
To identify fish composition of annual catch
To evaluate the weight of annual catch
To examine the fishing activity at the landing and fishing sites
Materials and Methods
Study site was at the landing site of Bahir-Dar number one fishers' cooperative station. Data was collected by identifying fish species just after arrival of motorized boat to the station and taking their weight on daily bases using a sensitive balance. Data collection has been carried out from September 2003 to September 2009. Reconnaissance survey was conducted to overview the fishing site and fishing materials at different landing and fishing sites. Survey was conducted by collecting information from the beneficiaries and fishers from motorized and reed boat by interview while they are fishing. Fishing gears type and size were assessed at their landing and fishing sites. Data was analyzed using statistical software (SPSS version 16) and descriptive statistics.
Result and Discussion
Total catch composition and weight
The three main species groups targeted by commercial gillnet fishery of L. Tana during the study were found to be a species flock of endemic, large Labeobarbus spp., African catfish (Clarias gariepinus) and Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) (Figure 1). Total catch from Lake Tana by Bahir- Dar fishers' number one cooperative recorded during the study was O. niloticus 1689.1 tone, C. gariepinus 527.3 tone and L. barbus 383.8 tone. Annual catch shows that, compositions of fish species for seven respective years are mainly O. niloticus which constitutes 64.96 %, C. gariepinus 20.28 % and L. barbus 14.76 % of the total catch (Figure 2). Even though species diversity for L. barbus species is more divers, which enables Abay basin rich in fish diversity due to L. barbus endemisity exclusively in L. Tana. The previous two species are more abundant in total catch respectively, but L. barbus species is rare, the most possible explanation is due to inappropriate fishing burdens for several years on their spawning grounds with non applicable fishery legislations in the region that make L. barbus composition rare in commercial catch composition of fishers of Bahir-Dar number one fishers cooperative. Full time fishers and off time fishers of Lake Tana vicinity target L. barbus species at spawning grounds especially at all Lake Tana tributary river mouths and upstream rivers while fishes migrate for breeding purpose.