The Arab Republic of Egypt


Area : 100 200 kmē
Shelf area (to 200 m) : 87 120 kmē
Length of coastline : about 2 420 km
Population (1995) : 62 million
GDP at current market prices (1995) : US$ 60 436 million
GDP per caput (1995) : US$ 973
Agricultural GDP (1995) : US$ 9 000 million (estimate)


Commodity balance (1995):

  Production Imports Exports Total supply Per caput supply
  '000 tons live weight kg/year
Fish for direct human consumption 309.6 142.0 2.3 449.3 7.2
Fish for animal feed and other purposes - - - - -
Estimated employment (1995):
(i)Primary sector : 200 000 licensed fishermen
(ii)Secondary sector : n.a.
Gross value of fisheries output at ex-vessel prices (1995) : US$ 3 010 million
Trade (1995)  
(i)Value of imports : US$ 79.0 million
(ii)Value of exports : US$ 3.4 million


 Marine fisheries
The fishing industry in Egypt comprises sea fisheries (Mediterranean and Red Sea fisheries), which account for 24% of total production, inland fisheries 61,5%, and aquaculture 14.5%.

A wide variety of fishing vessels and gear are in use. The registered fishing fleet consists of 2 353 powered vessels and 33 375 boats propelled by sail. The majority of motorized boats operating in marine fisheries are equipped with 30-800 hp engines. Boats equipped with small engines use hand line and trawl nets. The marine fleet is composed of: 1 355 trawlers and 135 purse seiners, 547 line fishing boats and 383 boats using other fishing gears operating in the Mediterranean sea; 234 trawlers, 83 purse seiners, 289 line fishing boats operate in the Gulf of Suez and Red Sea. Non-motorized boats operate mainly in inland fisheries. Purse seining is generally conducted at night with light attraction techniques. Nets are typically 200-250 m long and 60 m deep. The purse seiners have usually 20 to 30 crew members.

Mediterranean Sea Fisheries: The fishing grounds used by Egyptian vessels are located on the continental shelf in front of the Nile Delta. They used to support prosperous export-oriented fisheries for shrimp, demersal species, and sardine for domestic consumption.

This situation was drastically altered by the construction of the Aswan High Dam, which has largely reduced the flow of nutrients carried by the Nile to the sea. Recently, the situation has partially improved, probably as a result of greater discharges of enriched drainage water from the Nile Delta.

During the period 1986-1995, landings from the Mediterranean fluctuated between 33 000 t and 54 600 t, reaching a peak in 1994. More than 60% of fish are landed at: Damietta, Port Said and Alexandria. In 1995, landings comprised more than 30 fish and prawn species. Sardines account for the bulk of the catch (about 20%), mullet 9%, shrimp and crabs 11%.

Red Sea Fisheries: The Red Sea fishing grounds can be divided into two main sectors: (i) the Gulf of Suez, which is a shallow gulf not more than 100 m deep with a nearly flat bottom; and (ii) the Red Sea coast, which extends from the southern part of the Gulf of Suez to the Egyptian/Sudanese border.

Landings from the Gulf of Suez and the Red Sea coast fluctuated between 22 000 t and 51 000 t during the period 1986-1995, reaching a peak in 1993. More than 50% of the fishes landed at "El Attaka", in the Gulf of Suez. Red Sea landings in 1995 comprised more than 30 commercial fish species. Shrimp and crabs make up about 23%, lizard fish and bogue together 18%, snapper 11%, sardine 6%, and red mullet 2%.
 Inland fisheries
The largest lake is Lake Nasser/Nubia, which is 180 m deep and covers an area of 6 216 km2, 5 248 km2 of which is in Egypt with the rest in the Sudan. In 1995 the Egyptian fisheries at Lake Nasser produced about 35 000 t of fish.

A large number of small vessels and many fixed nets are used to exploit fisheries in the Nile itself and the littoral lagoons in the Delta. The largest of these lagoons is Lake Manzala. The five main lagoons cover a total surface area of about 200 000 hectares.

There is one natural lake in Egypt, Lake Qarun, situated near the city of El Fayoum. Its annual yield is currently estimated at 703 t but although Lake Qarun was originally a fresh water surface, it has gradually become saline. It is shallow and highly productive. Other depressions have been formed in Wadi Al Rayan.

Annual production from inland waters is estimated at some 185 000 t.
 Aquaculture and hatcheries
Aquaculture has expanded considerably. The production reached 45 000 t in 1995, making up 14.5% of total fish landings. This includes production from regular fish farm ponds as well as from rice fields. Tilapia, carp and mullet are the main species produced; however catfish, sea bream, sea bass and shrimp are produced in lesser quantities. The Government is the main supplier of stocking material for freshwater ponds, producing 322 million fry in 1994-95, mostly carp, from nine hatcheries. Marine fish farming depends on wild fry collected and distributed exclusively by the Government. Small-scale production of marine fish seed is currently taking place. Because of freshwater shortages, only hatcheries are allowed to use freshwater while fish farms depend completely on agricultural drainage water.
 Utilization of the catch
Fish is a traditional and important component of the Egyptian diet, and is the main source of cheap animal protein for a growing population. Fish consumption in Egypt is characterized by a longstanding traditional preference for fresh fish. However, with increasing fish imports and developments in cold storage, frozen fish is becoming acceptable. In addition, fish consumed in areas far away from landing sites is salted as is some of the sardine and mullet catch from the Mediterranean and Red Sea. Although salted fish is traditionally eaten during certain holiday periods, salting is expected to decline as internal transport and marketing improves. Processing facilities include units for freezing, canning, and smoking fish. Canned sardines are sold locally and exported.
 Economic role of the fishing industry
The fishing industry and its various sub-sectors provide more than 300 000 job opportunities. The General Authority for Fish Resources Development, a state agency, is responsible for the development of the fisheries sector in Egypt. Its five-year plan 1992/93-1996/97 aimed at raising per caput fish consumption to 9 kg in 1996 but this target is still to be achieved. The proposed investments required to achieve such a goal were estimated at US$ 95 million.


To raise the per caput consumption to 9 kg/year, the policy of the General Authority is to: (i) pay greater attention to the development of natural fish resources, through the protection of the environment and the periodical clearing of lagoon inlets to prevent silting; (ii) make fishing gear available at reasonable prices; (iii) make the fishing community more aware of the results of the latest scientific work; (iv) promote marine aquaculture; (v) encourage rice growers to breed fish in rice fields; (vi) make use of water canals and drains for fish breeding in cages; (vii) develop the fishing fleet by providing, through fisheries cooperatives, soft loans to renew the high sea fishing vessels; and (viii) promote the export of high-value fish and the import of low-value fish.
Fish has always played an important role in the Egyptian diet and fish demand is set to increase in line with the rapid growth in population (2.3% per year). In 1995, 142 000 t of fish were imported to fill the gap between demand and local fish supplies. People in southern Egypt prefer big freshwater fish while people in coastal areas prefer mullet, sea bream, shrimps and crabs. Carp tends to be less popular. Fish is preferred to meat and chicken by 33% of consumers.
The following institutions are engaged in a range of fisheries research activities:

1. The Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries, belonging to the Academy of Scientific Research and Technology. It includes the following departments: Mediterranean Sea, Red Sea, Shore Protection, Inland Fisheries and Fish Culture.

2. Central Laboratory for Aquaculture Research (CLAR) at Abbasa, Agricultural Research Center, Ministry of Agriculture.

3. The Fisheries Research Centre at Ismailia, Suez Canal University.

4. Other universities, such as the University of Alexandria and the University of Al Azhar, are engaged in academic and applied research. Of particular mention are the Oceanography Department and the Fish Technology Centre at the University of Alexandria.

5. The Central Department of Scientific and Applied Research of the General Authority for Fish Resources Development, which is engaged in applying the results of some academic research in Governorates, such as the New Valley Governorate and the Matrouh Governorate.
USAID contributed funds for establishing the Central Laboratory for Aquaculture Research at Abbasa, as well as toward the establishment of mullet hatcheries at Alexandria. The USA is also contributing to the development of the Bardawil lagoon. Japan assisted in modernizing and developing the fishing harbour at Suez and the Lake Nasser fisheries. Italy contributed to a comprehensive Freshwater Aquaculture Programme at Manzala. The Netherlands contributed to studies for developing the transportation of marine fingerlings to Lake Qarun, the establishment of the fisheries research center at the Suez Canal University, and the fisheries research centre at Al Arish.