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Fishing industry or fisheries

Refers to the activity (activities) that involves establishment, development and exploitation of different fish resources. This is carried out in the water bodies both man made and natural. Fishing has developed much in the world especially in the temperate regions where water is cool and the fishing grounds are many. Fishing is well developed in the countries like Norway, Japan, Canada, Russia and other African countries like South Africa, Namibia and Angola. East African fishing industry is not well developed despite having many water bodies and a long coastal line.


Fishing is referred to as a robber industry because in many parts of the world catching is not balanced by replenishing the fish stock. This has been due to the introduction of faster and more powerful fishing vessels and modern fishing equipment to meet the ever increasing demand for more food needed for the burgeoning population. Hence fishing is excessive compared to replacement by reproduction.

Conditions that favor the development of fishing industry

1.    1. Cool climate with temperature lower than 20C. The cool water of temperate seas are more suited for the breeding of fish than the tropical water. Valuable species like salmon, cod, herring, haddock, and mackerel are found in the temperate seas.

2.    2. Availability of planktons. Planktons are used as food by fish and hence fish are plentiful where there is a lot of plankton. Plankton flourishes under cool and shallow water and in the presence of plenty of mineral salt.

3.    3. Physical environment along the coastal characterized by indentations provide ideal sites for ports. Some of the greatest fishing ports of the world like St.John (New found land) and Bergen (Norway) are found along the intended coastlines.

Types of fish

There are three categories of fish that are salt water fish, fresh water fish and anadromous fish.

1. Salt-water fish

Include the fish species that live in the seas, oceans, and salty lakes, Herring, which is most common in Norway, Ice-Land, Sweden, Japan and China is an example of salt water fish.


Salt water fish can be divided into;

1.      a. Pelagic species. The species that live close to the surface water of the oceans and the seas. They move in large shoals. The most common species are Herring and Mackerel found in the Mediterranean Sea and off the coast of west Europe, Sardines found in the Mediterranean sea. New England and North America. Anchovies small fish mainly caught off the coast of Peru. Anchovies are used for making fish meal that is fed to animals and as fertilizer and Menhaden found off the coast of North America. It accounts for 1/3 of total catch in USA. Menhaden is used for fertilizers and animal feed. It has very high content of nitrates and phosphorus .Others are pilchard.

2.      b. Dermesal species. These are species found at the bottom of the seas and oceans. The most important species include cod, which is a large fish of 1.5 meters long used for extracting oil. It is mainly fished from the North sea off the coast of Norway and Iceland. Other demises fish species are Tuna, Haddock, Hake, Snapper, group and Halibut. These are fished off the coast of British Columbia.

2. Fresh Water Fish;

These include the species that live in the lakes like Lake Tanganyika and Victoria, Edward, Albert and Turkana, and rivers like Ugalla river, Rufiji and Kagera rivers. They are not as important as salt water species and do not swim in shoals. Fresh water fishing in Europe and USA is a part time occupation.


In USA it takes place in the great lakes (i.e Michigan, Huron, Superior, Erie and Ontario). These are the most important inland fishing grounds. The species found are perch, pike, trout and salmon. In Russia, Japan and China inland Fishing is important. Inland Fishing in Africa takes place in the lake Victoria, Lake Tanganyika, Lake Malawi, Lake Turkana where Nile perch is fished, and Lake Naivasha.

3. Anadromous Fishing;

These are species spawn in rivers but spend their lifetime in oceans and seas. They later return to rivers to spawn and die. The most common species include Salmon. This is most fished in North America. Salmon travels in large numbers. Once fished it can be conserved while fresh or sometimes smoked and canned. There are canning factories in Canada (at Vancouver).

Fishing Methods used include;

1.     a. Drifting in which the drift nets hang vertically like the table tennis. The method is used in catching pelagic fish. The fish gills are caught in the mesh when the fish is trying to swim across the drift net.



2.      b. Trawling in which the trawl net is used. This is bag shaped net used in catching the dermises fish as it is dragged by using the trawler.

3.      c.  Seining that involve the use of haul seine and purse seine. They have intermediate features between drift net and trawler. Haul seine net looks like a drift net but is smaller and the purse seine net looks like a trawl net but also smaller in size. The seine net is pulled to surround the shoal of fish It is used by fishermen in small boats or by land based fishermen.


4.     d. Lining in which lines fitted with hooks are use to catch fish. It is used where trawlers and seine nets cannot be used especially where the sea floor is rugged. It is used for large fish like tuna. Two types of line are used that is Hand-line (haul line) which is a line with a single baited hook cast from the deck. It can be drawn from water when the float indicates that the fish has been hooked. It is popular for spot fishing but uneconomical. Long lines is associated with many hooks (500 to 5000) attached to it. It can be several kilometers towed by dories or large streamer.

5.    e. Whaling by the use of power fired harpoons which normally carry an explosive charge. It is used for catching whales especially in Japan.

Other methods, which are used especially In East Africa are bows and arrows and spears (but this method is in decline), The use of fish baskets and fish traps, scoop nets, cast nets called Kitagala In lake Victoria, gill nets and the use of poisonous chemicals and dynamite as it is being done along the coast. Most of traditional methods are destructive to the fish species and their habitats.


Fishing industry is well developed in Norway and it takes place in the North Sea. It is leading country in Europe. Fishing is done in the sea because fish farming inland is difficult due to the harsh climate. The species commonly fishing are cold and herring. The development has been due to the following factors;

1.    1. Presence of the continental shelf that provide shallow water and fish food (planktons). This is far due to the sunlight penetration in the shallow water that encourages the growth of planktons. The water do not exceed a depth of 185m (about 600ft).

2.      2. Long indented coastline, which provide fishing grounds and sheltered harbors.

3.     3. The North Atlantic Drift (the ocean current) which is warm has led to the favorable conditions for fish industry development. The drift also brings  and distributes food along the coast.

4.      4. The need for raw material for oil making industries has encouraged the fishing industry.

5.      5. Limited agricultural land, forest and mineral deposits have made people opt for fishing activities. Some of the land is no longer productive.

6.      6. The high demand balanced diet in the urban areas has provided market for industry.

7.     7. Good transport and communication has also encouraged. For example there are advanced ports like scavenger, Oslo, Moss, Trondheim, Alison, and Haguesund.

8.     8. The use of advanced fishing facilities like refrigerated cargo vessels for transporting to other parts of the world. These have been a result of the use of advanced technology. Some of the fish is exported while frozen to Britain for fried- fish trade.

9.      9. There has been strong government support on the fishing industry.

10. Power availability especially HEP has stimulated the development of the fishing industry.

11. Presence of wide variety of fish species like Capelin, cod, Herring, Brisling, Haddock, Sprats, Mackerel, whale, and dogfish (rock salmon). Also there has been introduction of exotic species, which are commercially more desirable.

12. Capital to be invested in fisheries is readily available.

13. The use of modern fishing methods like trawling and drift netting.


Norwegian fishing grounds


Japan is one of the three most important fishing countries in the world and its per capital consumption of fish is the biggest in the world. Inshore fishing along the coast and offshore fishing in the deep sea are taking place. Modern fishing vessels operate in the Pacific Ocean. Fishing vessels are owned by large corporations. Most vessels are refrigerated and have processing facilities. Whaling is also taking place and whaling is the second largest whaling nation in the world. The species include Cod, herring and salmon.

Factors that have facilitated the development of Fishing Industry in Japan;

1.       -The broad continental shelf of the North West pacific shallow water and the meeting of warm Kuroshio and cold Oyashio currents help to produce ideal conditions for the growth of plankton. Hence both pelagic and Dermesel fish are abundant.

2.      -The presence of many inlets (indentations) which provide good breeding grounds for fish and the development of fishing ports.

3.      -Traditionally, the Japanese have been traveling far in the sea or oceans hence they have long experience in sea faring voyages. So this facilitated the fishing industry.

4.    -Pressure on agricultural resources has made Japan turn her attention to the fishing industry.The land is mountainous and hence not good for agriculture.

5.      -Modern industrial and technological development has extended to fishing industry. This has made fishing industry become efficient and effective.

6.      -Reliable market in the country and outside has encouraged the development of the fishing industry. In Japan, fish is the great source of food. The ready market has been promoted by good preservation and processing methods.

7.      -Availability of capital which was invested in the fishing industry, lead to great developments.

8.      -Banks and other institutions have been offering a financial support and technical advice in the development of the fishing industry.

9.     -The strong government support in establishing research centers for the development or promotion of the fishing industry.

10  -The presence of many islands in Japan has led to the existence of extensive fishing grounds.

Limitations of Fishing Industry in Japan;

1.      Restrictions imposed on Japan to limit its area for fishing. Each territory identified its own fishing grounds and there was to be no any interference from other countries. Formerly Japan had greater freedom in fishing in the ocean but that freedom is no longer there. This has impacts on Japan and has made Japan to put more emphasis on agriculture (Fish farming) Aquaculture in Japan accounts for 1/10 of Japan’s fishing industry.

Factors that have stimulated the development of Fish farming in Japan;

1.       -Advanced technology among the people has contributed greatly.

2.    -Restrictions imposed on Japan on the use of the seawater have made people opt for fish farming. Fishing is therefore restricted to certain distance from the land. So it cannot go very far in the ocean in terms of fishing.

3.      -Capital is available since the country is economically well advanced.

4.      -The government plan to reduce over fishing problem in the sea has encouraged the development of fish farming.

5.      -The need to promote researches on fish has stimulated the development of the fish industry.

6.      -Easy availability of food for fish.

7.      -Reliable market in the country since the people use fish as the major source of food.

The seas around Japan and the Pacific Ocean are the fishing grounds of Japan.

Importance of Fishing Industry in Norway and Japan;

1.      -It has provided employment opportunities to people since other resources like minerals; forests and land are limited both in Japan and Norway.

2.      -It has stimulated the development of oil manufacturing industries since fish is used as raw materials for that industry.

3.      -It has encouraged the development of ship building industry both in Norway and Japan. Hence the sea transport has improved.

4.      -The fish industry has also stimulated the development of HEP centers in the countries.

Problems facing fishing industry in Norway and Japan;

1)     Over fishing due to over dependence on the fish rather than other resources like land, minerals and forests, which are also limited, also over exploitation is caused by some fishing methods that kill even unwanted species. Hence the number of species has decreased especially the blue whale.

2)     The introduction of new species to compete with the native species has been difficult since the new species are not well used to the conditions in those countries.

3)     Land reclamation carried out in those countries has disturbed the habitats.

4)     Water pollution has affected the fish, some fish species die because of oil spill or poisonous chemicals. Pollution with mercury has been a big problem in Japan nowadays.

5)     Competition from other nations which have also developed the same industry has reduced the market of fish from Norway and Japan.

6)     Restrictions on the use of the sea water have also reduced the distance over which the countries can fish. The international agreement insists that countries should stick to their own fishing zones.

7)     Poaching is another problem, which has led to the disappearance of some valuable species.

8)     Sometimes the breakdown of the machines leads to the decomposition of fishes when being transported or stored.

9)     Strong storm waves are encountered when fishing in the deep sea water.

10)The local market is highly competitive and the external market is limited as other countries are now involved in the fishing activity.


The annual output of Canadian fisheries is a little larger than that of Britain. Fisheries were threatened by trawlers in 1970s and these to overfishing. The chief fish in Canada include salmon, cod, lobsters, herring, haddock, scallops, halibut, flounders, sole, sardine, and whitefish. Much of fish in Canada is exported due to small internal market caused by small population. Fish is exported “wet” to USA and “dry” to Latin America and South Western Europe.

Fishing grounds in Canada are located in two main areas.

In the eastern Canada where there are fishing grounds, which extend for about 1600 km (almost 1000 miles) from cape cod to new found land, off the coast of Canada. In the western Canada fishing grounds are located in British Columbia on the pacific seaboard. This smaller catches than the eastern coast. Herring, Salmon, Hake and crabs are the main species. Halibut catches have declined sharply. Vancouver is the heart of the western Canadian fishing industry. The fishing conservation methods are being undertaken so as to maintain yields.

Also, there are inland fisheries in Canada. These produce salmon, trout, eel, and whitefish, which are, caught in chief rivers and lakes e.g. River. Skeena, River Fraser, great lakes and great lakes and the great slave lakes.

Factors for the success of fishing industry in Canada;

1)    The use of advanced technology, which has made people, use advanced methods like trawling and fishing fleets in the fishing process.

2)     Widening of the fishing area to deeper parts of the Atlantic Ocean.

3)     Great number of fish and fish species, which are fished in large quantities.

4)   Ready market outside for example the U.S.A while the internal market is not large because of small population of the country.

5)     Then poor soils and harsh climate in the northern parts of the country have made people turn to the sea for fishing to sustain their livelihood.

6)    The eastern fishing ground are located near the meeting of the warm Northern Atlantic Drift and the cold Labrador current which results in the rapid growth of the plankton and hence water are rich in fish.

Fishing is both inshore and offshore, with the main catch being cod, haddock, and sardines. The inshore fishing is carried out by small boats called dories while the offshore fishing which centers on Holifax, st. John and Lunenburg, is undertaken by large vessels which stay at sea up to three weeks.

Importance of fishing industry in Canada

1)     It has created employment opportunities in the country.

2)    It is one of the sources of income to the country and hence it contributes to the generation of the government revenue and individual income.

3)  It has encouraged the development of the industries by providing capital and raw materials for making fertilizers and margarine.

4)   It has also stimulated the development of transport and communication. Some ports have developed as fishing ports, which are used to exporting fish to other countries.

5)     Some towns have grown due to the fishing industries especially along the coastal areas.

6)     It has also led to the development of tourism in the country. Some tourists go for sport fishing activities as part of the entertainment.

7)     It is a source of food, which countries a lot of protein necessary for people’s health and growth.

Problems facing the fishing industry in Canada;

These include overfishing, diseases, which attack fish, water pollution, due to wastes from industries and small internal markets due to a small population.


Russia is continually expanding its sea fisheries. It has done so by excluding Japan fleets on the Pacific border. The agreement for high sea fisheries of the Northwest Pacific Ocean was concluded with Japan to restrict the freedom of open water fishing.

The bulk of the catch in Russia is made up of salmon from the Kuriles, Sakhalin, and Kamchatka. Other fish caught include pollack, tuna, sardine, cod, mackerel, sharks and whales. Russia is the leading whaling nation in the world followed by a Japan.

Large quantities of fresh water fish including sturgeon, eels, carps, trout and salmon are also caught in the Siberian rivers and Caspian sea. The expansion of the Russian fishing has often been to the disadvantage of the longer established fishing nations, especially Norway.

The success in the fishing industry in Russia has been due to:

1)     The governments drive on the increased fish output by expanding the fishing area.

2)     Availability of many fish varieties as a result of good cool waters in the ocean.

3)     Ready market within and outside the country.

4)     The use of advanced technology in the fishing process

5)     Restriction against interference from other nations like Japan and Norway.



It has both marine and fresh water fishing activities. Some of fish species found in East Africa are Nile perch, Tilapia, Marlin, Limnothrissa (dagga), cod haddock, sole, plaice, mullet, crustacean, prawns, eel fish and trout.

Problems facing the fishing industry in east Africa

Despite many water bodies and a long coastal strip in East Africa has not managed to develop advanced fishing industry. This has been due to the following reasons.

1)     Poor method of fishing because of low level of technology. Some of the methods used like poisonous chemicals and dynamite are destructive to the fish species and their habitats. Others do not give good catch since they are too simple such as hand lines and baskets.

2)     The largest number of fishermen does not have capital to invest in the more advanced method of fishing.

3)     The fishermen also do not cooperate in order to be assisted in terms of advice and financial support.

4)     The tropical waters are too saline and of high temperature hence they discourage high fish reproduction. The fish also is of poor quality and unpalatable due to this aspect.

5)     The continental is narrow limiting the number of fish grounds in East Africa.

6)     There is low internal market due to poverty and external market because of stiff competition posed by other countries.

7)     The volume fluctuation in the water bodies has handicapped the industry.

8)     Poor research activities on the fish resources have been another problem.

9)     Restriction by the environmentalists who discourage the development of more fish projects claiming that they cause destruction of forest and water pollution.

10) Inadequate infrastructure is also limiting the industry. There are poor roads, poor storage facilities e.t.c.

11) Water borne diseases, which affect both the fisherman and the fish, have led to the dwindling of the fish industry.

12) Poor government support on the industry.

13) High population has accelerated overfishing and illegal fishing in protected areas

14) The fishing industry is affected by dangerous animals like crocodiles and hippopotamus, which attack the fishermen and eat fish.

15) The introduction of new species has led to the disappearance of native species in the lakes. For example Nile perch in the Lake Victoria has led to the decrease of tilapia since they feed on them.

16) Water pollution of water as a result of waste disposal and oil spills prevent oxygen from getting into the water body and hot water cause abrupt rise in temperature.

17) Poor power supply.

Measures to solve the problems facing the fishing industry in east Africa

1)     Improvement in the processing and storage methods like the use of refrigerators. Also smoking plants for fish preservation have been introduced in Zanzibar and the fish freezing center in Kigoma.

2)   Fishermen have been encouraged to form cooperatives so that they can be assisted. The government of Tanzania for example is encouraging the people to cooperate so that they can be assisted easily in terms of education and financial assistance.

3)     Training of the fisheries officers has been initiated.

4)     There is the use of mass media programs to educate the people on how to conserve fish resources.

5)     There should be control of pollution and this should be associated with strict monitoring system.

6)     Restocking the over-fished ground especially at the coast of East Africa.

7)     Fish farming (aquaculture) should be expanded and more fish hatcheries have to be established.

8)     There should be intensification of research on fisheries. This is important for understanding the habitats and the feeding habits of the fish as well as getting data on the salinity of the ocean.



Fish farming or aqua culture is the practice of rearing fish of certain selected species, in the ponds or tanks at home or near homesteads. These are constructed near large water bodies like lakes and rivers.


In Kenya there are estimated to be some 30,000 fish ponds in western Kenya alone, but of these 3000 are in operation. Fish farming is supported by hatcheries where farmers buy the fingerlings.

Fish farming needs careful attention. The fish must be well fed and the pond kept clean. In Kenya most of the fish farms and hatcheries are owned and run by individuals, but some companies are also involved.

Advantages of fish farming;

1)     It ensures an increased and constant supply of fish in the country.

2)     It is also a source of income since the fish can be sold both within the country and outside the country.

3)     The idle land is utilized and hence is made productive.

4)     It solves the problem of overfishing in the large water bodies.

5)     The products are of good size and quality due to careful attention given to the fish by the farmers.

6)     There are no much problems of water pollution since the ponds are kept clean.

7)     Fish farming can encourage the development of trade and tourism.


General importance of fishing industry to the respective countries

1)     It provides food as a source of protein.

2)     Provides foreign currency when exported.

3)     It contributes to the national income of the respective country.

4)  Fishing helps the country to diversify their economy instead of having mono-economy, which is dangerous mono- economy involves the state in which the country depends on only one economic activity.

5)     It provides employment to the people.

6)     It encourages the development of industries since it acts as a source of raw materials and capital.

7)  It promotes the living standard of the people by having balanced diet and improving the supply of social services.

8)     Fishing leads to the development of tourism especially when sport fishing is established.

General problems facing the fishing industry

1)    Overfishing because of the increased number of population and the use of tools, which kill fish indiscriminately.

2)     Water pollution due to the discharge of industrial wastes into the oceans and other water bodies. Japan is facing the problem of concentration of mercury in its fishing ground due to industrial discharge.

3)     Many developing countries still use inefficient traditional methods hence the annual catch is low.

4)     Developing countries are also plagued by the problem of poor transport and communication, poor facilities for preservation and processing etc.

5)     There is also a problem of low or inadequate capital for investment.

Management and conservation measures

1)     People should stop fishing immature fish and hence good fishing facilities should be introduced to achieve the goal.

2)     Water bodies should be protected from pollution. People should not discharge harmful wastes into the ocean or other water bodies since they can cause death of fish and other organisms.

3)     The over fished water bodies should be restocked in order to maintain the fishing activities.

4)     The use of artificial fertilization of eggs should be encouraged in order to promote fishing activities.

5)     Encouraging fish farming in the country in order to avoid the problem of overfishing and improve the supply of good quality fish.

6)   More researches should be organized in order to have a profound knowledge on fish and fish farming and general conservation techniques.

7)    There should be an international agreement on fisheries and the boundaries of the fishing regions should be identified to avoid interference and mismanagement.

8)   Farmers or fishermen should be educated on better fishing methods so as to attain sustainable fishing techniques.


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