Find Fisheries expertise in Rwanda

Rwanda is a land-locked country but does have an extensive inland water area of 1,390 km2, or about 8% of the entire country. The fishery sector is not a significant contributor to Rwanda’s GDP. The fisheries sub-sector contributed 0.3% to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2009. This is due to inadequate replenishing of fish in the lakes and a resultant low output. The national fish production is estimated at 13,000 tons of which capture fisheries contribute 9,000 tons and aquaculture 4,000 tons.

Rwanda is currently a net importer of fish from neighbouring Uganda and Tanzania. However, it is important to note that Rwanda also re-exports most of the imported fish to the DRC. Fisheries and Aquaculture sectors provide about 200,000 jobs in 2009 (both direct and downstream jobs).

This hydrological system is characterized by a dense network of lakes, rivers, and wetlands that feed into two major drainage basins: the Nile to the east and the Congo to the west. There are 24 lakes including three shared lakes (i.e. Kivu with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Cyohoha and Rweru with Burundi.

On the whole however, fishing in Rwanda has remained artisanal characterized by smallholder fishers and farmers. Forty species are reported in Rwandan waters of which only four, Limnothrissa miodon (locally called Isambaza), the Nile tilapia, the African catfish, and chala are of economic importance.

All the Rwandan lakes apart from those within the National Parks have been subjected to damaging fishing practices for a long time including use of under size mesh nets, use of chemical attractants, poison fishing, and beach seining. Lack of a central fisheries management agency and limited private sector investment has led to severe destruction of the resource to levels which are less than 10% of the estimated production potential. In 2012, the Rwandan government began a fish restocking exercise whereby 3,500 Nile tilapia fish fingerlings (or young fish) were purchased intended to restock the depleted inland water bodies. The government intends to restock the 17 inland water bodies in Rwanda depleted through over- fishing and pollution.

Fisheries organisations in Rwanda
Ministry of Natural Resources (MINIRENA)
The Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI)