Is inland aquaculture the panacea for Sierra Leone's decline in marine fish stocks?


Okeke-Ogbuafor N, Stead S & Gray T (2021) Is inland aquaculture the panacea for Sierra Leone's decline in marine fish stocks?. Marine Policy, 132, Art. No.: 104663.

The literature on fisheries for developing countries often cites inland aquaculture as a promising source of wealth creation for a nation in terms of revenue generation from export products. However, in this paper we argue that inland aquaculture has a greater prospect of success if it focuses on social welfare – i.e. alleviating food insecurity and poverty in coastal fishing communities, particularly those that are experiencing increased and unsustainable fishing pressure on marine fish. Nevertheless, promoting inland aquaculture in coastal areas faces many challenges, including financial, legal, political, environmental, logistical, educational, and attitudinal obstacles. Our study investigates these challenges in two coastal communities in Sierra Leone – Tombo and Goderich – where declining levels of marine fish catches are intensifying efforts to provide alternative or supplementary forms of employment for artisanal fishers, but where knowledge and experience of, and enthusiasm and funding for, inland aquaculture are limited. The research is based on the perceptions of 51 key informant interviewees and 199 survey questionnaire respondents. The main findings of the fieldwork are as follows. (1) Few local fishers were familiar with inland aquaculture and its potential benefits. (2) There were land tenure problems (for example, women were excluded from ownership of land). (3) There was little funding to buy/rent land and equipment. (4) Despite declining fish stocks, respondents were reluctant to take up full-time fish farming because of the easier option of fishing. Our findings suggest that greater uptake of inland aquaculture is more likely if presented to local fishers as a supplementary livelihood activity rather than an alternative occupation to marine capture fishing. Our study reinforces the importance of understanding local fishers’ cultures, values, and preferences before introducing a new livelihood activity.

Sierra Leone; Inland aquaculture; Marine capture fisheries; Wealth creation; Social welfare; Alternative and supplementary livelihoods

Marine Policy: Volume 132

Publication date31/10/2021
Publication date online31/07/2021
Date accepted by journal22/06/2021