Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations


December 2004


Organisation des Nations Unies pour l'alimentation et l'agriculture


Organización de las Naciones Unidas para la Agricultura y la Alimentación




1 246 700 km²

Continental shelf area:

51 000 km²

Length of coastline:
Length of 200 m

1 650 km

1,604 km

Population (2003):

13.5 million

GDP (current prices, 2003):

US$ 13.2 billion

GNI per capita (current prices 2003):

US$ 740

Fishing and fish processing GDP:



Commodity balance (2001):





Total supply

Per caput supply


tons (liveweight equivalent)


Fish for direct human consumption

217 768

14 546

15 295

217 019


Fish for animal feed and other purposes

34 750





Estimated employment (2002):

235 000

Primary sector (marine):

35 000

Secondary sector (marine):

50 000

inland fisheries:

Subsistence fisheries:

150 000 (including workers involved in fish processing and marketing).
Incorporated into artisanal fisheries.

Gross value of Fisheries Output (2001):

US$ 178.7 million

Trade (current prices, 2002):


Value of imports:

US$ 18 119 000

Value of exports:

US$ 34 986 000


Marine fisheries

The Angolan coastline is 1650 km long, with two diverging currents (Angola and Benguela currents) that create a strong upwelling system that supports a high primary production of marine resources. However, overfishing and changes in hydroclimatic conditions have strongly reduced the fisheries potential, which is now estimated to be about 360 000 t/yr, comprising 285 000 t of small pelagic species like horse mackerel and sardinellas, and 55 000 t of various demersal species, including 7 000 t of deepwater shrimps.

The area from Lobito to the mouth of the Cunene River is by far the most productive of Angola’s fishing zones, with an abundance of horse mackerel, sardines, tunas and a range of demersal species. Angola’s northern fishing zone extends from Luanda to the mouth of the Congo River, and the central fishing zone stretches from Luanda to Benguela.

The main Angolan fishing sectors are considered below.

Demersal fisheries

In 2003, the industrial fleet (25-100 m length) had 49 licensed vessels, 16 of which were national and 33 foreign (of which 4 were under EU flags. The total catch by demersal trawlers was just over 44 000 t in 2001, mainly sea breams, groupers, snappers, croakers, hakes and horse mackerel (as bycatch). This was a sharp decline in vessel numbers, down from 59 in 2001.

Pelagic fisheries

Pelagic trawlers in 2003 numbered 17 (15-40 m length), comprising 6 national and 11 foreign vessels, with a total catch in 2001 of just over 10 000 t, mainly horse mackerel.

Resource assessment in 2002 indicated that, of the major pelagic species, the sardinellas were not fully exploited, while the horse mackerel stocks had reached a critical state, requiring immediate decisions concerning continuing allowable levels of exploitation.

Purse-seine fishery

There was a fleet of 104 purse-seiners (15-35 m length) licensed in 2003, of which 96 were national and 8 were foreign-flag vessels. The purse-seine fleet targets only small pelagic species (sardinellas, pilchard, horse mackerel and others). In 2001, the licensed fleet of 75 purse-seiners caught a total of 171 000 t.

Shrimp fishery

The shrimp fleet comprised 43 vessels in 2003, including 4 semi-industrial (12-25 m length) and 17 industrial (26-40 m length), all national, plus 22 ships of EU flag nations. In 2001, the fleet of 50 shrimp vessels caught just over 1700 t.

The data available for recent years indicate decreasing catch per unit effort (CPUE). The contracting crustacean biomass during recent years gives cause for alarm regarding the future of this fishery.

Line gear

In 2003, the line-fish fleet comprised 28 industrial vessels (25 national and 3 foreign). In 2001, a fleet of 31 vessels caught 14 000 t of demersal species and 2 000 t of pelagic species (sharks, barracudas, etc.).

Tuna fishery

The tuna fishery occurs in deep water, with two foreign industrial fleets involved. The longline fleet is 18 vessels, and the purse-seine fleet has 15 vessels.

The statistical data on capture by those fleets are irregular. In 2001, the tuna fleet comprised 35 vessels and reported a catch of about 3600 t.

Artisanal fisheries

Most fishers are involved in the artisanal sector, which includes more than 4 600 artisanal fishing boats (0-14 m length) and 35 000 artisanal fishers, with an estimated 85 000 persons involved directly and indirectly in the sector. Only around 20% of artisanal boats are motorized and their activities are therefore limited to the close inshore zone (up to 3 n.mi.). Between 1995 and 2002, the number of artisanal boats steadily increased, although the growth rate reduced substantially after 2000 (only 2.5 percent increase between 2000 and 2002) (Table 1).

Table 1. Size and rate of change in the artisanal fleet in Angola



Change year-on-year


4 677



5 207



5 915



5 963



6 062


Artisanal fishing activities are scattered along the coast, with around 102 regular landing sites identified. Benguela and Luanda provinces have the greatest concentration of artisanal fishing areas. There is a real potential for increased artisanal fisheries and Institute for the Development of Artisanal Fisheries (IPA) has put great effort into developing the sector, particularly in terms of improving quality and tonnage of landings, as well assisting to improve the standard of living of the artisanal communities. According to IPA survey data, total artisanal catches in 2002 exceeded 100 000 t, almost double the reported catch of 2001. Artisanal fishers catch demersal species and lower-value species like groupers, snappers, seabreams, croakers and spiny lobster, whereas semi-industrial and industrial fishers mainly target pelagic species (horse mackerel, sardinella, tuna), shrimp and deep sea red crab.

Table 2. Catches by provinces between 1997 and 2002 (tonne)








Industrial sector

























1 814




34 023

42 796

59 723

42 722



Kwanza Sul

8 799

5 109

10 714

15 906




28 861

29 018

29 249

29 531




26 312

54 489

38 195

101 637



Artisanal sector

40 000

24 531

30 955

39 889

50 420



140 304

157 149

169 799

232 351

246 519

281 700


Inland fisheries

Angola has very good potential in terms of inland fisheries if the example of neighbouring countries is a guide. There are possible limitations due to water supply during the dry season, but overall the outlook is positive. Angola’s land area of almost 1 250 000 km2 lies two-thirds in major hydrogeographical basins, namely the Zambezi, Okavango, Kunene, Etosha-Cuvelai and Zaire. This vast area is shared the neighbouring countries of Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique, Tanzania and Namibia.

Angola is very rich in number of rivers and ponds (see Table 3), but has no large lakes. The provinces of Kuando Kubango, Lunda Norte, Bié, Moxico and Kuanza Norte would seem to have the greatest potential for development of an active inland fisheries sector.
Inland fisheries in Angola have been broadly ignored in statistical terms, and very little information is available on the extent of activities, species exploited, catch volumes, number of fishers and degree of dependence.

Inland fisheries are a traditional activity countrywide in Angola. It involves a considerable number of fishermen and women (more than 150 000) that process and market the catch. It is a quite rudimentary activity, carried out in communities where purchasing power is almost null and the level of poverty of the fishermen and the population in general is quite marked. The actual catches in the inland fisheries are believed to be close to 10 000 t. The potential total catches in inland fisheries is estimated to be 50 000 t at least, so the sector is clearly far from fully exploited. Tilapia, also known as cacusso, and catfish, also know as bagre, are the species that dominate the inland catches. The main gear types used are nets, traps (also known as muzua) and handlines (fishhook). In the seasonal fisheries, some dams are fished using lobster pots. Despite abundant and healthy living inland aquatic resources, local inhabitants fish with poor resources, minimal support infrastructure and often live in abject poverty. The main type of boat used is the piroga, a canoe made of wood. Recently the chata has been introduced, which is a small-planked or glass-fibre open boat that can be equipped with an outboard engine.

The most recent available data derives from a preliminary survey carried out in connection with a study for the Artisanal Fisheries – Master Plan (Table 3).

Table 3. Summary assessment of the inland fisheries situation

table 3


In the late 1960s and early 1970s, trials were made with seeding larvae of mussel (Perna perna) and growing on, and there were also attempts to develop breeding of tuna (Authynnus alleteratus). The trials lacked continuity due to unfavourable local conditions.

About 20 years later the Marine Fisheries Institute (IIM) attempted to repeat the trials, this time using Mediterranean mussel (Mytilus galloprovincialis) due to its perceived greater potential. Again, the trials were inconclusive due to problems of continuity.
No current data is available on aquaculture in Angola, although the country is rich in tilapia (cacusso), catfish (bagre) and other species that could be cultivated with simple techniques.

Currently there is one big project under implementation, "Tilapia, pisculture of Angola Lda", which is a private sector initiative and situated on the Bengo river in Kifangondo (Luanda province). The project is using Tilapia niloticus and plans production of 2 million larvae/month and 100 t/month of table fish.


Essentially, all semi-industrial and industrial fishing is based at four main ports: Namibe, Benguela, Porto amboim and Luanda. Table 4 lists the various landing places for the artisanal and commercial sectors.

Table 4. Main landing places in Angola

table 4

Table 4A. Main resources


Main species

Fishing gear

Distribution area


Horse mackerel

Trawl, seine

whole coast, but mostly in south



Purse seine

whole coast, but mostly centre and north




whole coast


Sea breams

Trawl, gillnet

whole coast




centre and north




centre and south


One third of animal protein comes from fish. Most of the fish caught (more than 90 percent) is sold on the national market as per capita demand for fish is high and not fully satisfied.

Fish consumption is on average 16 kg per annum, ranging from 40 kg in coastal areas, down to 10 kg or less in continental areas. The distribution of fish to the population has been strongly affected by the civil war. Most of the fish is sold fresh. Some 41 000 t (25 percent) is deep frozen, mainly in Luanda; 6000 t is dried or salted (Benguela), and less than 1 000 t is canned. Most activities relating to fish processing and selling are the responsibilities of women.

Table 5. Evolution of fish processing between 1997 and 2002 (tonne)

table 5

Source: GEPE


The contribution of the fisheries sector to GNP is 3 percent. Direct fisheries revenues are collected from fishing licence fees for vessels, fishing quota fees and violations levy (excess on allowed by catch, fishing zones, species size, etc.).

The fishery sector is a major source of employment for many Angolans. In 2000, about 41 000 people were employed directly in the fishery sector, with another 85 000 people in fishing-related activities.


After independence in 1975 the government gave priority to industrial fisheries, and only in 1992 did the government start to focus on the artisanal sector as a potential contributor to poverty alleviation and food security. Recently (from March 2003, based on Decree law no. 16/02 of December 09) the scope of the Ministry of Fisheries has been extended to inland fisheries, a move driven by the need to improve food security in the interior. The Ministry of Fisheries aims to promote sustainable and responsible fisheries, and bases its efforts on the trilogy: fleet, training and support infrastructure. Funds will be invested in the renovation of Angola´s small and obsolete fleet. Training in Angola is insufficient, with only a basic-level school at the Cefopescas in Cacuaco, near Luanda, and a medium-level school in Namibe Province. The Ministry is planning basic-level schools in Cabinda or Zaire, Benguela and Kuanza Sul; medium-level schools in Luanda and in Benguela Province; together with a university in Namibe Province. The rehabilitation and creation of ports, markets and refrigerated supply chains are among the priorities for improvement of support infrastructure. Furthermore, the Ministry will implement a programme to revitalise the salt production and iodization sector, priority being given to the provinces of Namibe, Benguela and Luanda.

Horse mackerel and shrimp catches have fallen in recent years. In response, government
management strategies have been adjusted, and it has recently been announced that trawling should be stopped for a period in order to protect marine resources by allowing stocks to regenerate.

A long-term vision of development prospects for the next 20 years from 2004 is under discussion (Angola 2025 - Fishery and Aquaculture). In the medium term, goals are identified in the Master Plan covering the period until 2004 as being:

  • Reduce poverty, with social and economic development and growth in the context of a policy of sustainable development.

  • Develop actions that seek the rehabilitation and construction of support infrastructure for fishery production in the country.

  • Create management mechanisms supportive of the constitution and development of companies, as well as to facilitate access to funding destined for development of the fishing sector.

  • Regulate, coordinate and control the establishment and activities of economic agents in agreement with the Law and in the interests of the country.

  • Build on Angola’s reputation for good management and responsible fishing activities.

  • Respect the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and ongoing initiatives reflecting a precautionary approach in catches, and taking into account the overall objectives of sustainable fisheries development.

Inland area fishing activities will be expanded, with support for aquaculture and inland waters fishery to enhance the scope for sustainable fish production at a local-community level.


The Marine Research Institute (IIM) of the Ministry of Fisheries, among other functions, is responsible for evaluating the state of fishery resources. It conducts at least two survey cruises per year at least to assess the biomass of the main target species (pelagic and demersal). Since 1984, most survey cruises have been carried out using the Nansen Vessel (Norway). Bilateral cooperation agreements are in place with Namibia for research on shared resources, in particular pilchard and deep sea red crab.

Angola is a member of the BENEFIT and Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem (BCLME) regional programmes, together with South Africa and Namibia, aiming to acquire a greater knowledge on the Benguela Current Ecosystem.


The Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem (BCLME) Programme focuses on the management of this unique upwelling ecosystem flanking the coasts of Angola, Namibia and South Africa. The three member countries provide further financial and in-kind contributions.

The Angolan Fishery Sector has benefited from technical assistance from several countries and International Organizations, including the European Union (EU), Norway (through NORAD) and from United Nations agencies such as FAO, UNDP, The African Development Bank and IFAD.
Major projects in course of implementation in the fishing sector are:

  • Ambriz Artisinal Development Project (UNDP grant of US$ 2 million).

  • IFAD loan of US$ 7.5 million for the Angola Northern Fishing Communities Development Programme.

  • African Development Bank loan of US$ 9 million for Developing Artisanal Fishing Project.


Institution and contact details


Ministry of Fisheries (MP)

Head Office, P.O.Box 83, Luanda

Office of the Minister, Legal Office, Studies and Planning Office, International Exchange Office, Inspection Office, General Secretariat, Directorate of Fisheries and Surveillance Directorate.

Marine Research Institute (IIM),

P.O.Box 206,
Ilha de Cabo, Luanda

Assessment surveys of commercial stock (small pelagic, demersal and crustaceans, amongst others), research on ways of adding value to fish and fish products, oceanographic research and aquaculture experiments, recommendations for management measure and TAC to Ministry.

Institute for the Development of Artisanal Fisheries (IPA)

Rua José Pedro Tuca, 36/38
P.O.Box 6776, Luanda

Development of the artisanal fishery sector, including marine and inland fisheries, through fostering sustainable and responsible fishing activities, by assisting in the creation of cooperatives and in fund raising for fishing gear and support infrastructure, as well as by providing advice and training on management of fisheries.

National Institute for Support to the Fishing Industry (INAIP), Luanda

Provide support to the industrial fisheries sector. Development of fishing industries and plays an important role in training, assistance in the creation of industrial cooperatives and associations, as well as fund raising.

FADEPA – Support Fund for the Development of Artisanal Fisheries, Luanda


A financial fund to support development of the artisanal sector and industrial fishery projects. Provides credit to communities, enabling them to acquire boats, motors and gear.

CEFOPESCAS – Fisheries Schools, Cacuaco


Main fisheries school, providing education and training for Ministry of Fisheries staff