Press release

Call for action as Lake Nasser fish stocks decline

Attendees at a WorldFish convened workshop in Cairo have called for urgent action including a fisheries management plan for overfished Lake Nasser.

The conclusion was reached during the event on fisheries stock assessment in Lake Nasser at the WorldFish Cairo office on 20 May 2015. The workshop was held within the framework of the Youth Employment in Aswan Governorate Project.

Lake Nasser straddles the Egyptian and North Sudanese border and at 5,250 km2 is one of the largest man-made lakes in the world. The Lake Nasser fishery provides livelihoods for more than 13,000 fishers and their families as well as many more jobs in supporting sectors; therefore, ensuring its sustainability is of great importance.

Dr Ashley Halls, an inland fisheries specialist with more than 20 years’ experience in developing countries in Asia and Africa, presented a study that showed that with the growing number of boats in the lake and poor compliance with fisheries regulations, yield from the fishery has declined significantly.

“Since 1981, catch rates have declined by about 80% in a manner symptomatic of unsustainable rates of exploitation”, said Halls. “Landings of all fish do not necessarily happen through the three official harbours that monitor catches from the lake. This leaves a considerable proportion of landings unreported,” he continued.

The results of a preliminary assessment suggest that the maximum sustainable yield is around 17,000 tonnes per year. This is significantly less than previous estimates and could be caught with just 1,300 boats, less than half the number now operating.

Halls explained: “It is obvious that a management plan is highly recommended with full engagement of all stakeholders. In this context, a co-management organization with representatives of all stakeholders including fishers could be helpful in order to identify the role and responsibilities of each before going on with the development of the management plan.

“The plan should focus on rebuilding the fish stocks of the Lake to sustainable levels based on an updated stock assessment. Given the fact that fishers avoid landing their catch through official harbour channels, an alternative catch monitoring system should be designed for example a catch assessment survey or self- monitoring by fishers using logbooks.

The Youth Employment in Aswan Governorate Project is funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and led by CARE, aims to increase youth employment in Aswan, in an area of Egypt badly hurt by the down-turn in tourism. WorldFish delivers the fisheries and aquaculture components of the project including support for the development of aquaculture, value addition for fisheries products and improved fisheries management.

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Toby Johnson, Senior Media Relations Manager

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About SDC:

Switzerland has been a long-standing partner of Egypt, mainly in the domain of economic development. Following the 2011 uprising, Switzerland decided to upscale its support to Egypt in order to help Egypt’s transition towards a democracy. A framework agreement between Switzerland and Egypt was ratified in November 2013 to outline this bilateral cooperation. Several Swiss Governmental agencies are involved, such as the Swiss Development and Cooperation Agency, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs and the Human Security Division. The program focuses on three domains: Democratic transition and human rights; migration and protection;and economic development and employment.

About CARE:

CARE Egypt is part of CARE International - one of the largest private humanitarian organizations in the world - and has been serving individuals, communities and local associations in the poorest regions of Egypt since 1954. In addition to its headquarters located in Cairo, the organization has field offices operating in six governorates; Beni Suef, El- Minya, Sohag, Assiut, Qena and Aswan; CARE Egypt works on three main development areas; women’s empowerment, girls education, agriculture and natural resources, while strengthening governance in all our projects through local participatory processes. CARE Egypt is strongly committed to the mobilization of different development stakeholders, including local communities, NGOs, academic and research institutions, governmental entities, and the corporate sector.

About WorldFish

WorldFish is an international, nonprofit research organization that harnesses the potential of fisheries and aquaculture to reduce hunger and poverty. Globally, more than one billion poor people obtain most of their animal protein from fish and 800 million depend on fisheries and aquaculture for their livelihoods. WorldFish is a member of CGIAR, a global research partnership for a food-secure future.

About Livestock and Fish research program

The CGIAR Livestock and Fish research program aims to increase the productivity of small-scale livestock and fish systems in sustainable ways, making meat, milk and fish more available and affordable to poor consumers across the developing world.


CGIAR is a global research partnership for a food-secure future. Its science is carried out by the 15 research Centers that are members of the CGIAR Consortium in collaboration with hundreds of partners.

Related sustainable development goals: