Despite multiple actions initiated by the government and partners, production remains highly insufficient to meet local demand, hence importation continues unabated.
Fish is a major protein source to many households in Cameroon. National demand is according to statistics from the Ministry of Trade stands at 500,000 tons annually but local production is in the neighbourhood of 300,000 tons. To close the demand gap in the market, fish is imported into the country with Cameroon said to be spending over FCFA 100 billion annually on fish importation. This therefore is an indication that the local fish industry still has a huge market potential for investors to wade in and take advantage of especially with the huge fish production potential Cameroon possess.
On its part, the government is reactivating initiatives to boost local production. Some new initiatives have also been taken to ensure improvement in the production of the seafood. Imparting young Cameroonians with fishing skills is a hallmark action the government has taken recently with training centres in Debunscha near Limbe, Belabo, Maga, Lonji-Kribi, and Bonamatoumbe-Douala. According to officials of the Ministry of Livestock, Fisheries and Animal Industries, the trainees are given adapted training and later given fishing materials upon completion of their course to start their activities. In other cases, like in Isangele in Bakassi area in Ndian Division, government is encouraging Cameroonians fishermen to settle there. Recently, the government constructed houses to host some 60 fishermen in the area and equally donated fishing boats to them. Government intention according to Dr Guy Iréné Mimbang is that Cameroonian fishermen will bring all their catch to Cameroonian market unlike foreign fishermen in the zone who illegally take their production to the neighbouring Nigerian markets.
Also, the supply of fingerlings and fish feeds is an important bolster to local producers. In 2020, some 6 million fingerlings were distributed to fish farmers. Many projects have also been put in place by the State to accompany fish producers in improving production. One of such project, the Livestock and Fish farming value chain development project has put a budget line of FCFA 2 billion to support private initiatives in fish production. Early this year, the Minister of Livestock, Fisheries and Animal Industry launched an appeal for private investors to manifest interest in aquaculture which despite enormous potentials, contributes only about 5 per cent of Cameroon’s fish production. So far, information from the ministry indicates that over 117 private investors (five foreigners and 112 nationals) have indicated interest with some of the projects already unfolding in the field. One of the national investors who recently met with the Minister of Livestock, Fisheries and Animal Industries, Dr Taîga and his collaborators, announced a planned investment of FCFA 12.28 billion in the entire fish production value chain. During the first meeting of the inter-ministerial committee created to follow-up private investments in the sector, Dr Taîga said, the new approach is intended to create a new breed of entrepreneurs in the fishing sector. In a bid to encourage investors, the government through the 2021 Finance Law provided tax and duty exemptions on the importation of aquaculture equipment. Plans are also rife for the creation of fish markets in some metropolis of the country to facilitate access of local fish to Cameroonian consumers.