Scombrotoxicosis In African Fisheries-Its Implications For International Fish Trade: An Overview|
Lokuruka, Michael NI
Fisheries are important in many African countries because of their contribution to animal protein supplies, foreign exchange earnings and rural employment. An estimated 3 million people were directly employed annually in this sector in Africa in 2000-2004. Total fish production by African countries amounts to approximately 4 million tonnes annually. However, fish consumption has declined, from an average per capita supply of about 9 kg in 1990 to less than 7 kg in 2005. In Kenya, the per capita consumption was down to 5.2 kg in 2002 from 7.0 kg in 2001. The overall trade balance of the region continues to be positive (in monetary terms), even though the region has only a marginal role in international trade. The main future possibilities for increasing food-fish supplies in the region include productivity enhancement programmes in small water bodies, aquaculture development, better utilization of small pelagic and mesopelagic fish, relocation of foreign vessels to fish beyond the Exclusive Economic Zones, and greater catches of demersal fish in currently unexploited or underexploited fishing zones. Given the forecasts for modest growth in gross domestic product over the next few years, future prospects for further supply appear rather dim. Likely trends include further constraints on imports, increases in real fish prices, continued demand for mainly low-value species and the continuing export of most demersal production. At the same time, lower public subsidies will increase production costs and weaken competitiveness in export markets. The implications for food security and supplies as well as for foreign exchange earnings are difficult to quantify but might be a cause for concern in the future. To obtain any improvement in export or intra-African trade volumes requires increased production, investment in facilities and technology, as well as the adoption of food safety procedures aimed at processing for safety, value and quality. In a number of cases in the past, food safety concerns and scombroid fish poisoning have been a hindrance to export continuity and expansion. Because of the importance of trade for the social and economic development in African countries, the application of hazard analysis at critical control points in the fisheries sector, emphasis on public education, and the establishment of appropriate legislation to control scombrotoxicity and related fish-food hazards have the potential to enhance trade in fishery products from Africa in the international arena.
Fisheries, Africa, global trade, scombrotoxicosis