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Fisheries forecasting in the Niger inner delta

Optimal management of fishing zones requires assessment of the stocks potentially available as early as possible into the fishing season, or even before it begins if possible. The problem is how periods of fish scarcity or abundance might be predicted. In flood plains, annual catches depend on river flood levels. The inner delta of the Niger, one of the most extensive flooded areas on Earth, is such a case. IRD scientists have investigated the possibility of forecasting catches in such an environment.

They found evidence for a direct relationship between the amounts caught and the River Nigers discharge. They determined the latter from readings taken at a station upstream of the delta. The relationship was used to devise a model for predicting the quantity of catchable fish available 2 months before the start of the fishing season and 9 months before the end. It should prove to be a highly useful tool for improving fisheries management in the inner delta of the Niger which supplies a significant amount of protein for the people living in the region.The hydrological regime of the inner delta of the River Niger, situated in Mali, is subject to strong annual and indeed intra-annual variability. This delta ecosystem has a characteristic feature, a three-phase cycle. The first, a period of flood, starts in July marking the beginning of the cycle; then, after several months of rising water-levels, the flood recedes, between November and January; finally, a period of low water prevails between March and June. The rivers various fish species are adapted to this cycle of alternating conditions. Feeding, growth and mortality depend on that rhythm. The flood scatters the fish away from the river bed and brings abundant food. It provides refuge areas, environments where reproduction can take place undisturbed. Growth then proceeds until the waters are in recession, a period of high natural mortality. Fishing effort has to follow the rhythm set by the succession of floo
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Contact: Raymond La
deval@paris.ird.fr
221-849-33-07
Institut de Recherche Pour le Dveloppement
29-Mar-2002


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