The fisheries sub-sector contributes approximately 12 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to the economy of The Gambia.
Within the food production sector, it is ranked third after the crops and the livestock-sector. With an average annual contribution of 2.4 percent, the artisanal fisheries sub-sector provides direct and indirect employment to an estimated 25-30,000 people, while the industrial sub-sector provides employment for 1, 500 and 2,000 Gambian people. The sector also contributes about 13 per cent to government revenue annually.
Fish consumption average is 25 kg, but it still remains to be as low as nine kilogramme in inland areas of the country. Fish consumption is highest in coastal areas, like Sanyany, Gunjur, Tanji, Bakau and Banjul where fish production is high. For investment in Fisheries, government of The Gambia has played a significant role in the development of artisanal fisheries sub-sector, in partnership with its donor assistants. However, private-sector investment in the industrial fisheries sector has been minimal because of lack of finance, as most commercial banks are reluctant to give loans for fisheries activities.
Among major investments in the industrial fisheries sector is the African Development Bank (ADB) loan to the government of The Gambia for fisheries development with a component to build a fisheries port in Banjul. This will enable foreign vessels to land their catches in The Gambia as required by the fisheries licensing regulations. There are new fishing companies being formed, but they are yet to construct onshore facilities. Existing companies are operating below capacity because they rely mostly on supply from artisanal fishermen.
The government has puts in place an incentive system for the fisheries sector, which are subject to review. These include a duty waiver on fishing inputs with foreign exchange components; duty waiver on fish exports; and import tax waiver on plant and equipment. Privilege of duty-free fuel for fisheries sector was suspended in 1994. In 2001, estimated artisanal fish production was 32016 tonnes, of which 948.8 tonnes was exported and the 31067.2 tonnes balance was consumed domestically.
For the projection of fish demand and supply for the next 25 years, parameters used were four per cent population increase, five per cent fish production increase, three per cent increase in fish exports and two per cent more fish imports.