Sustainable Management Of Sport Fisheries For Communities Around Niger River

Project and Seminar Material for Fishery and Aquaculture

Sustainable Management Of Sport Fisheries For Communities Around Niger River


Rural communities often rely on fishing as a source of protein and income. However, high population growth rates are placing increasing stress on local fish stocks, and so it is important to develop alternative livelihood strategies. In Nigeria, locally based sport fisheries have the potential to provide stable alternative livelihoods for coastal villagers, and build community resilience to impacts such as climate change and fluctuations in commodity prices.

The Niugini Black Bass is one of the world’s premier sportfish, attracting anglers from around the globe to PNG. In some areas, Black Bass forms the basis of a growing sport fishery, able to benefit local communities’ economies while maintaining traditional ways of life and promoting environmental stewardship. However, management is hindered by fundamental scientific knowledge gaps, putting the future of the fisheries at risk.

The objective of this project was to examine the sustainable management of sport fisheries for communities around Niger River with the necessary biological, ecological, socio-cultural and economic understanding needed to develop and manage a sustainable and resilient locally based sportfishery able to provide stable alternative livelihoods for coastal communities. Work was based in the communities around the Niger River. Conclusions and recommendations were made upon completion of the study.

Table Of Content

Preliminary Page(s)

  • Title page
  • Certification page
  • Dedication
  • Acknowledgement
  • Abstract
  • Table of content

Chapter One

1.0 Introduction

  • 1.1 Background To The Study
  • 1.2 Statement Of The Problem
  • 1.3 Objectives Of The Study
  • 1.4 Research Questions
  • 1.5 Significance Of The Study
  • 1.6 Scope / Limitations Of The Study

Chapter Two

2.0 Literature Review

  • 2.1 Conceptual Review
  • 2.2 Social Impacts
  • 2.3 Economic Impacts
  • 2.4 Environmental Impacts
  • 2.5 Status Of Recreational Fisheries

Chapter Three

3.0 Research Methodology

  • 3.1 Research Design
  • 3.2 Data And Sources
  • 3.3 Data Analysis

Chapter Four

4.0 Results And Discussion

  • 4.1 Results
  • 4.2 Constraints/Challenges To Fisheries Development In Niger River Basin
  • 4.3 Recreational Fisheries
  • 4.4 The Role Of Recreational Fisheries In Sustainable Management Of Resources And On Economic Development
  • 4.5 Implications For Sustainability And Development

Chapter Five

5.0 Conclusion And Recommendations

  • 5.1 Conclusion
  • 5.2 Recommendations
  • References

Chapter One


1.1 Background To The Study

Locally based sport fisheries on the River Niger have the potential to provide stable alternative livelihoods for poor coastal villagers. The industry would provide new income to improve food security, and build community resilience to external impacts such as climate change and fluctuations in commodity prices (McCully, 2000). This study will conduct the research needed to underpin the development of a sustainable and resilient locally based sport-fishing industry. It will examine the ecology and biology of sport-fish resources and devise protocols to maximize long-term industry viability. It will also investigate potential livelihood costs and benefits and determine the commercialization needs of a sport-fishing industry on the River Niger.

Development of sport fishing would not only provide communities around the River Niger with income opportunities, but also bring benefits of conserving vital fisheries resources, by converting unsustainable capture fisheries into viable release fisheries; providing the incentive and knowledge to support ecosystem health and resilience; and supporting extensive capacity building across fisheries research, business and tourism (Gislason, 1998).

Recreational fishing, also called sport fishing, is fishing for pleasure or competition. It can be contrasted with commercial fishing, which is fishing for profit, or subsistence fishing, which is fishing for survival (Wikipedia, 2015). The most common form of sport fishing is done with a rod, reel, line, hooks and any one of a wide range of baits. Other devices, commonly referred to as terminal tackle, are also used to affect or complement the presentation of the bait to the targeted fish. Some examples of terminal tackle include weights, floats, and swivels. Lures are frequently used in place of bait. Some hobbyists make handmade tackle themselves, including plastic lures and artificial flies.

The practice of catching or attempting to catch fish with a hook is known as angling. Big-game fishing is conducted from boats to catch large open-water species such as tuna, sharks and marlin. According to Horne (2005), noodling and trout tickling are also recreational activities. The Niger River support a wide variety of quality recreational angling opportunities for tens of thousands of residents of the river bank and visitors alike. The diversity of opportunities reflects the large numbers of species available and the varied geographic features of the area around the river including its topography and climate (Herd, 2003).

Freshwater angling is an integral part of Nigerian culture and heritage as observed in the case of Argungun festival which is also a sport fishing festival. Sport fishing can be enjoyed at any age, provides an escape from the stresses of modern life, and provides an opportunity to connect with family and friends through shared outdoor experiences. Sport fishing methods vary according to the area fished, the species targeted, the personal strategies of the angler, and the resources available. It ranges from the aristocratic art of fly fishing to the high-tech methods used to chase marlin and tuna. Sport fishing is usually done with hook, line, rod and reel rather than with nets or other aids.
Even sports fisherman discard a lot of non-target and target fish on the bank while fishing.

However, Niger River has been considered by the researcher as a good ground for sport fishing in order to boost the economy of the coastal communities. In North America, freshwater fish include snook, redfish, salmon, trout, bass, pike, catfish, walleye and muskellunge. The smallest fish are called panfish, because they can fit whole in a normal cooking pan (Wikipedia, 2015). Examples are perch and sunfish. In the past, sport fishers, even if they did not eat their catch, almost always killed them to bring them to shore to be weighed or for preservation as trophies. In order to protect recreational fisheries sport fishermen now often catch and release, and sometimes tag and release, which involves fitting the fish with identity tags, recording vital statistics, and sending a record to a government agency.

1.2 Statement Of The Problem

Sport fishing is not just an enjoyable pastime but it is an important engine of the economy in many regions. This notwithstanding, the sector is little known and little appreciated in African countries like Nigeria. A major reason for the sector’s lack of profile is the lack of accessible information on the sport fishery’s economic dimensions and importance. The economic importance of the fishery is not well understood and, to a large extent, the industry is getting eclipsed by other business sectors that can more coherently demonstrate their stature. However, the researcher is out to examine the sustainable management of sport fisheries for communities around Niger River.

1.3 Objectives Of The Study

The following are the objectives of this study:

  1. To examine the level of practice of sport fishing in Nigeria.
  2. To examine the prospects of sport fishing in Nigeria.
  3. To evaluate the process of sustainable management of sport fisheries for communities around the Niger River.

1.4 Research Questions

  1. What is the level of practice of sport fisheries in Nigeria?
  2. What are the prospects of sport fisheries in Nigeria?
  3. What is the process of sustainable management of sport fisheries for communities around the Niger River?

1.5 Significance Of The Study

The following are the significance of this study:

  1. The outcome of this study will be useful for stakeholders in agricultural sector, sport sector and the general public on the economic benefits the nation stands to derive from sport fishing if properly managed especially in the coastal communities of Niger River.
  2. This research will be a contribution to the body of literature in the area of the effect of personality trait on student’s academic performance, thereby constituting the empirical literature for future research in the subject area.

1.6 Scope / Limitations Of The Study

This study will cover the rudiments of sport fisheries and how it can be adopted in the coastal communities of Niger River.

Limitation Of Study
Financial constraint

Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).

Time constraint

The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.

Chapter Five

5.0 Conclusion And Recommendations

5.1 Conclusion

Sportfishing operations can have significant economic benefits for the communities where they operate, representing important livelihood diversification opportunities. While the communities studied rely heavily on fishery resources for sustenance, and some perceived a decline in local fish stocks over recent times, none attributes these declines to the presence of sportfishing operations. Overall, our socio-cultural analysis found positive perceptions of the sportfishing operations and that people associated the industry with improvements in their quality of life. Importantly, the socio-cultural analysis shows that these communities are generally well placed in terms of their capacity to further capitalize and benefit from ongoing sportfishing. There were however potential conflicts in communities where people also gained economic benefits from extractive industries with the potential to impact on sustainable sportfishing such as logging and mining. The biological and ecological part of this study was based on the rivers around Baia.

An important finding was that Black Bass size is a poor indication of age, so it is important to monitor the age structure to ensure continuing profitable fisheries. We developed and validated a non-lethal method age estimation, based on counts of apparent growth increments in dorsal spines, that can be used by NFA in conjunction with tourism operators to monitor Bass population structure into the future.

Results also show that Black Bass use a range of habitats throughout their life cycle, and that the presence of in-water structure is critical for Bass populations, including shallow grassy edges of the lower freshwater reaches for small juveniles, and snag habitats for larger juveniles and adults. Since one of the main threats to Bass habitats is the loss of snag generating capacity and reduction in riparian services (Sheaves et al. 2018), habitats that provide structure, including riparian vegetation in particular and catchment forests in general, should be carefully considered by management, in a whole-of-system approach. Black Bass were also found to make regular migrations throughout the seascape, often associated with the new moon. These lunar movements coincide with the cycle of migration of juvenile gobies (‘whitebait’) from marine to freshwater reaches.

Black Bass feed extensively on these gobies just outside the estuary mouths on new moons, suggesting that the health of whitebait populations is critical to the resilience of Bass populations. Migrating whitebait transport copious amounts of marine-derived energy and nutrients to the estuaries and freshwater environments, representing an important and regular subsidy of nutrients to river food webs. This means that these whitebait populations are important not only for Bass but also for the overall functioning of river systems. Therefore, management should also implement measures that ensure continuing, healthy, whitebait populations, e.g. by maintaining good water quality.

Overall, results stress that, for the sustainability of this fishery, it is important to maintain (1) adequate connectivity between coastal, estuarine and freshwater habitats, (2) good water quality along the river systems and (3) healthy riparian zones that provide structure, shading and food (and ensure continuing good water quality). However, over the course of the project, degradation of river habitats due to logging was evident, and this can negatively affect the Black Bass fishery and other resources local populations rely on.

5.2 Recommendations

The knowledge gained from this project has important implications not only for the direct management of the Black Bass sportfishery but also for the management of particular habitats, overall rivers and their catchments. The main risks to Black Bass habitats (e.g. degradation of riparian vegetation, decreased water quality), the nature of Bass fisheries and the biology of Bass mean that effective monitoring of population change is imperative. Our results show that monitoring should focus on age, and that sub-lethal aging based on the analysis of growth increments in dorsal spines is appropriate and should be used. Moreover, although data indicate that both Black and Spot-tail Bass have marine larval phases and that larger individuals move out of rivers into coastal waters, the extent of connectivity between populations from the different river systems remains unknown.

In a region where traditional land tenure remains strong and local communities maintain control over local rivers, management strategies must consider the implications of the extent of connectivity of fished populations among rivers. For example, if populations are restricted to individual or connected river systems, then management of the populations by individual communities should be effective. Conversely, if populations range widely over a region spanning multiple community tenures, then effective management will require coordination among communities (Sheaves et al. 2016a). Given the knowledge gained, the precautionary approach to should be used, where rivers, or rivers within local areas should be managed as individual units until further genetics information is available.

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