91 600 km2


2 505 825 km2

Shelf area (to 200 m):

about 22 300 km2

Inland water area:

about 114 000 km2 (during periods of high water level)

Length of coastline: 717 km

717 km

Population (1999):

30.423 000

GDP at purchasers' value (1999):

US$ 32.6 billion

GDP per caput (1999):

US$ 940

Fisheries GDP (1999):



Commodity balance (1999)






Per caput supply


tons live weight


Fish for direct
human consumption

Fish for animal feed
and other purposes

50 000






Estimated employment (2000):


Primary sector:

10 500 inland and 1 500 marine registered full-time fishers
About 8 000 part-time & occasional fishers

Secondary sector:

not available

Gross value of fisheries output
(at ex-vessel prices) (2000):

US$ 45.6 million

Trade (1999):


Value of imports:

US$ 448 000

Value of exports:

US$ 212 000

Commodity balance for 2003 (updated 26/07/2005):





Stocks variation

Total Supply

Per Caput Supply


tonnes liveweight


Fish for direct human consumption

59 600


1 629


58 220


Fish for animal feed and other purposes








Trade (2003):



$US 324 000
157 tonne


US$ 533 000
1 629 tonne


Inland fisheries

The inland fisheries are based on the Nile River and its tributaries, contributing over 90% of the estimated production potential of the country. The Sudd swamps in the south and the man-made lakes on the White Nile (Gebel Aulia Reservoir), the Blue Nile (Roseires and Sennar Reservoirs), Atbara River (Khashm El Girba Reservoir) and the Main River Nile (Lake Nubia) represent the major fishing localities with respect to fish resource magnitude and exploitation thrust. The Sudd region harbours an estimated fish potential of 75 000 tons/year with a productivity of 110 kg/ha. However, the civil war disturbances, the dense cover of aquatic macrophytes and the rudimentary fishing gear and techniques had a negative impact on fish production, which did not exceed 30 000 tons annually (43%). The Gebel Aulia Reservoir has a fish potential of 15 000 tons/year and a current production of 13 000 tons/year (86.7%). Roseires Reservoir has a potential of 1 700 tons/year and fish landings of 1 500 tons/year (88.2%). Sennar Reservoir has an estimated fish capacity of 1 100 tons/year and an actual fish yield of 1 000 tons/year (91%). Lake Nubia's potential is 5 100 tons/year, but is able to produce only 1 000 tons of fish annually (19.6%). Production from other Nile River localities has been estimated at 4 000 tons/year.

The artisan craftsmen from different ethnic groups carry out fishing activities in the inland waters. They are generally characterized by their low socio-economic profile and fishing capacity. The majority of the fishing craft used by the Nilotic and Falata tribes are dugout canoes maneuvered by bamboo staves. Arab tribes use oar-propelled or motor-driven wooden and steel boats.

The predominant fishing gear includes active and passive gillnets, seine nets, trammel nets, long lines, hook and line, cast nets and baskets. Over 100 fish species have been reported to prevail in the inland waters with different degrees of occurrence in the various localities. The commercially important fish are Lates niloticus, Bagrus bayad, B. docmac, (first class), Oreochromis niloticus, Labeo spp, Barbus binny, Mormyrus spp, Distichodus spp (second class), Hydrocyon spp and Alestes spp (for wet salting).

Although the inland fisheries are largely artisan in nature, a steady increase in market-oriented activities has occurred in recent years; particularly in the White Nile and Lake Nubia.

Marine fisheries

The territorial rights of Sudan on the Red Sea are based on an Exclusive Economic Zone of 91 600 sq km, including a shelf area of 22 300 sq km. Despite the high biodiversity of aquatic life, exploitation emphasis has been historically placed on the harvesting of wild mollusks and finfish. Both activities are largely of a traditional and subsistence nature. The other highly valued resources are either untapped or only occasionally fished. As for finfish, fishing activities are carried out by the artisan sector using traditional gear, craft and fishing techniques and frequenting near-shore areas. Investments in commercial fisheries are limited in magnitude, with a tendency to increase in recent years using small and medium-size trawlers and purseiners. Over 236 species of bony fish have been reported in the marine waters of Sudan. However, 60-70% of the finfish catches are attributed to Epinephallus aerolatus, Lotijanus bohar, L. gibbus, Lethrinus spp, Caranx spp, Plectiopomus maculates, Aprion spp, Scomberomorus commersoni and Mugil spp. Finfish potential is estimated at 10 000 tons/year, while the reported yield amounts to 5000 tons/year.

Diving in search of wild mollusks is an ancient occupation for the majority of the coast population. The targeted species are the mother-of-pearl oyster Pinctada margaritifera, Trochus dentatus, Strombus and Lambia spp, which is exported to Europe as raw material for button manufacturing, cosmetics and inlay works.

Crustacean resources have not been quantified. Small-size trawlers, for the most part, carry out fishing activities targeting shrimps in the fishing grounds south (e.g. Delta Toker and Agieg) and north (e.g. Arbat) of Port Sudan. Eight species of shrimp have been recorded here, of which Peneaus semisulcatus, P. latisulcatus and Metapeneaus monocerus form the bulk of the harvest.

Fishing operations are largely artisan and of a subsistence nature and are concentrated in near-shore areas. Commercial fisheries are confined to indigenous firms, with or without foreign-contracted partnership.


Aquaculture in the Sudan dates back to the early 1990s with respect to mariculture and to 1953 for freshwater culture. Considerable research emphasis has been devoted to the development of oyster cultivation as an activity, in order to reduce stress on the natural oyster population, thereby furthering consistent and steady production and improving the socio-economic status of the rural population. This prolonged research has culminated in the verification and adoption of sound and viable alternative culture technologies that have paved the way for the expansion of oyster family farms along the coast, as well as encouraging large investment enterprises to back artificial pearl production.

Freshwater fish culture is primarily based on the pond culture of the indigenous species Oreochromis niloticus. Other local species such as Lates nilotius, Labio spp and Clarias lazira have been experimented with, but have not as yet been released to farmers. Exotic species have been introduced for experimental culture in combination with Oreochromis niloticus (e.g. common carp), or for use as biological control agents for the eradication of aquatic weeds that infest the irrigation canals of large agricultural structures (grass carp). Freshwater fish culture has not as yet developed into a vertically- integrated economic activity, despite the fact that the prerequisites for it are available. Several state and private sector farms were established around the capital, Khartoum and other towns in various states. The current recorded production of these farms has not exceeded 1 000 tons/year.

Utilization of the catch

Finfish is marketed and consumed fresh (63%), sun-dried (28%) or wet salted (9%). The fresh fish is transported from distant fishing grounds to consumption areas in the capital, Khartoum and other towns, either chilled or refrigerated. Sun-dried fish is mostly marketed in rain-fed and mechanized agricultural structures. Wet salted fish (mainly Hydrocyon sp, Alestes sp and Mugil sp) is intended for both local consumption and export.

Shells of the mother-of-pearl oyster Pinctada margaritifera and the gastropod Trochus dentatus are exported to some European countries. Other mollusc shells are harvested and sold locally as a source of calcium for poultry feed or as souvenirs.

Shrimps and prawns are sold locally as a highly-valued delicacy food, particularly in the better-class hotels.

Fish by catch as well as discards are utilized on a small scale for fishmeal production.


According to estimates for the year 2000, the per caput supply of fish is 1.64 kg/year. This figure is not likely to substantially increase, in view of the population growth rate which is currently estimated at 2.84% per annum. A possible avenue for increasing fish production is through the expansion of aquaculture and the increase of productivity per hectare.


The contribution of fisheries to the Sudan GDP is presently marginal. The per caput supply is only 1.64 kg /year, which is mostly obtained by capture fish landings. The aquaculture industry is not developed as yet. Because of their basic characteristics, the Sudan inland and marine capture fisheries are of a small-scale and semi-industrial nature. If properly managed, these types of fisheries would be qualified to satisfy subsistence and provide a good margin for large investments, particularly in the areas of freshwater fishing, mariculture and off-shore capture fisheries and their related facilities and supplies. The magnitude and trend of fish resource utilization and the level of development of the fisheries sector is handicapped by as number of problems and constraints. Some of these are mentioned below:


There are good prospects for fisheries development in the Sudan. Potential areas are:



According to the Sudan federal government system, there are structural arrangements for fisheries administration at the federal and state levels.

The Fisheries Administration within the Federal Ministry of Animal Resources is the central fisheries authority entrusted with planning, policy formulation, training and the overall supervision of the fisheries sector. This Administration is answerable to the Undersecretary of the Ministry. It consists of three main divisions, namely, capture fisheries, aquaculture and conservation. This Administration currently has 78 staff members, 34 of whom are technical personnel.

At the state level, fisheries administration structures are under the umbrella of the Director General of Agriculture, who is answerable to the Minister of Agriculture of that state. There are currently 12 fisheries administration structures endowed with fisheries resources out the 26 federal states of the Sudan.


Applied research and transfer of technology is the mandatory responsibility of the Fisheries Research Centre, Animal Resources Research Corporation of the Ministry of Science and Technology. The Fisheries Research Centre functions through six research stations located in different parts of the country. These include the Aquaculture Station (in Khartoum), the White Nile Station (Kosti), the Lake Nubia Station (Wadi Halfa), the Red Sea Station (Port Sudan), the Roseires Station (El Damazin) and the Khashm El Girba Station (Halfa El Gadieda). The staff of the Fisheries Research Centre consists of 79 members, of whom 24 are technical staff.


The Fisheries Training Institute delivers short-term training targeting fisheries officers, private fish farmers and fishermen. Local and foreign universities provide training leading to undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.


Sudan has received bilateral and humanitarian support in the area of fisheries that has helped in its development process. This support has included:


Not available at the present time.