Sustainable management of fishery resources

Project description

Title: Sustainable management of fishery resources
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Mauritania
Lead executing agency: Ministère des Pêches et de l’Economie Maritime (MPEM)
Overall term: 2010 to 2013

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The area of the Atlantic before the coast of Mauritania is among the world’s most plentiful ocean fishing grounds. The export of fish and fish products is the primary source of income for a large part of the population, and the fisheries sector is the most important employer. However, national and international fishing fleets are threatening over-exploitation of the fishing grounds, which endangers not only the country’s ecological balance, but also its economic development. With international support, the country has developed a strategy that should promote the responsible management of ocean resources, and has established principles for the sustainable management of its coastal waters.


Sustainable economic policies are followed in Mauritania’s fisheries sector. Resource conservation and resource utilisation are balanced.


GIZ is helping the Mauritanian Government to draw up plans for managing stocks of squid and shrimp, which are of the most economically important types of fish, and also the most threatened. There are also plans for preserving traditional fisheries skills and conserving the largest stocks of small pelagic species. Methods are being devised for monitoring compliance with these plans. The fisheries management plans stipulate exactly when and where each species can be fished, and how many may be taken. They set regulations for boats and establish closed seasons so that people can make a living by fishing without jeopardising fish stocks. The management plans also show how fisheries can be further developed and how value can be added for the country as a whole.

With GIZ support, the Mauritanian fisheries ministry is setting up a database that contains all information relevant to the sector, and which networks previously existing databases. This ensures the availability at all times of whatever information on fish stocks is needed for the proper implementation of fisheries management plans. A sustainable fisheries industry will be possible in Mauritania only when all actors are working in unison. For this reason, GIZ has supported the creation of a national advisory council to promote a dialog between fisheries authorities, companies and private individuals engaged in fishing.

GIZ’s work is complemented by the 'Fisheries monitoring' project of KfW Entwicklungsbank. A satellite-supported monitoring system as well as additional patrol boats and radar stations on the mainland help to enforce no-fishing zones and catch quotas.

GIZ also advises the fisheries ministry on the necessary legal and financial framework for a sustainable fisheries sector. This doesn’t just mean the provision of expertise as GIZ also maintains a dialog with participants about the needs and possibilities for change in the Mauritanian fisheries sector.

Now for the first time, the project is cooperating directly with the private sector. The objective is to diversify the use of marine resources to make it more sustainable. Through public-private partnerships (PPP), GIZ supports the private sector with regard to mariculture, selectivity of fishing equipment and in other areas.

Results achieved so far

Some of the fisheries management plans have already been agreed with all those involved. The Mauritanian cabinet adopted the plan for squid fishing, and even before it came into effect, the government had approved the second closed season as foreseen in the plan. The fisheries management plans serve all the donor organisations as a foundation for their work. In the current fisheries agreement with the European Union, for example, the quotas for squid and shrimp catches have been reduced in accordance with its specifications.

The results of the fisheries monitoring are also positive, and the Mauritanian system is seen as a model for West Africa. Private businesspersons share the expenses by paying a monitoring fee for fisheries licenses. In this way they contribute to financing of monitoring the fisheries over the long term.

By using its fish stocks sustainably, Mauritania can preserve some 40,000 jobs in the long run. This represents enormous economic potential in a country in which income from fisheries makes up almost half of profits from exports and about one-quarter of the national budget. As such, GIZ is supporting the preservation of traditional manual fishing skills and contributing to poverty reduction.