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Ethiopia avails high-quality fish to both the local and export markets. Skilled fishers from across the country are the primary sources of Ethiopia Fish.


Ethiopia Fish comes primarily from the country’s artificial and natural inland waters. Inland water body which comprises of lake water and river water is estimated to be 7,400 km2 and 7,000 km long.

The country’s big rivers-River Omo and Blue Nile harbor native fish species as well as Lake Tana which is the largest lake. Native species make up the more significant national fish population. They are about 175 species and 40 of them are only fished in Ethiopia.

Other supplies of fish include marshy grounds and fish pods. Ethiopia fish exports have shown a gradual increase in the last decade. The country produces over 40,000 tons of fish annually, and exports were valued at over USD 624 million. However, the country still struggles to reach its full potential in fish production and thereby imports USD 1.6 million worth of fish which is directed to the domestic and external markets. Most of these fish are channeled to Sudan. Demand for Ethiopia fish is projected to rise tremendously to 118000 tons annually by the year 2025.

Ethiopia aquaculture is promising, but there is still a wide range of problems which if solved could culminate into a tremendous increase in the country’s annual turnover. Constraints range from poor infrastructure connecting the fishing areas, lack of modernized equipment, underutilization of fish sources to poorly run fishermen associations and unions. National fish demand is still low and very seasonal. However, it has been discovered that consumption habits vary depending on availability. Fish has many nutritional values and the government believes increasing its consumption locally will help shelve the deficiency of animal proteins experienced nationally.

The government continues to lay down better legislations, plans, and strategies that will revamp and keep the sector expanding.


Ethiopia directs various types of fish to the international market which include:

Nile Catfish (Synodontis batensoda) – Found in the Blue Nile. It is characterized by a length of at most 50 centimeters, it is grey-black tinged and contains many black or brown spots. It is the most sustainable fish species in Ethiopia.

Ethiopian Straightfin Barb (Barbus pleurogramma)-Primarily found in a few rift lakes and the Awash Basin. It is the most eaten fish species in Ethiopia and thrives in water bodies containing plants. The primary concerns for this fish are water pollution and illegal fishing methods.

Bayad (Bagrus bajad) – It is common in Baro, Tekeze and Blue Nile. They feed on crustaceans, small fish, mollusks, insects, vegetable and lives at the bottom of water sources. A length of 112 centimeters characterizes them. Males live for seven years while females live for eight. They have a vast population.

Tana Lake Stone Loach (Afronemacheilus abyssinicus) – Mainly found in the Blue Nile where it flows to from Lake Tana. It has a small, slender shape and is at most four centimeters long. Their population is small.

Other types of Ethiopia fish: The nation also has other fish species such as Tana Lake Stone Loach, Mustache Upside-Down Catfish, Turkana Perch, Afrera Cichlid, Ethiopian Log Sucker, Bayad and Ethiopian Barbel.


Ethiopia fish are sourced from across the country. However, four of the country’s lakes contribute a large chunk of the national fish catch.

They include Tana which avails 25%, Ziway and Langano both producing 19% while Chamo and Abaya avail 18%, 12% in that order. Fincha and Koka reservoirs as well as River Baro located near Gambela, West of Ethiopia and River Omo at the South also contribute a sizeable amount of the national fish share.

Harvesting, handling, and Packing

Some of the most reliable sources of Ethiopia fish especially for export purposes are the artisanal fishing farmers. Nonetheless, other responsible sources such as fishermen undertaking the exercise are relied upon as long as they are under cooperative societies and unions.

Traditional catching means are still in place. Fishers use tools such as spears although this practice works better in catch intended for local and household consumption. The artisanal fishery is mostly employed for commercial purposes. Fishers own canoes and small vessels and use means such as imported brand new fishnets or animal-friendly methods incorporating gill netting and baited hooks to catch fish.

After fishing what follows is the sorting exercise. The exercise is determined by how healthy each one is, species and the fish sizes. Large and small fish are separated. To extend the shelf life of the fish, they are placed in cold chains and insulated containers. All this while they are kept under right phytosanitary and sanitary conditions. Freezer bags are used to put different grades of fish, and during instances involving large volumes, they are packed one type after the other for easy identification.

Traditional methods are still common especially in remote fishing locations which consist of smoking and drying. Dried fish is referred to as ‘kuanta’ and this kind of fish is common in Arba Minch and entails cutting the fish in large pieces hanging them for 2-3 days before packing in sacks and placing on floors. The fish lasts up to one month and is sold in the local selling joints as well as around Addis Ababa.

Ethiopia fish is also packed using a modernized automatic system which categorizes, packs and labels the fillets fitted in ice-bearing wrappers or freezer bags. They are then placed in cartoons which are sealed to prevent contamination. Labels show the fish type, condition- Whole or fillet, country of origin as well as the packing and expiry date.


Special vans are used to transport Ethiopia fish to the airport. They are customized to contain cold chains to ensure they retain their freshness. The cargo reaches clients within 1-2 days after conveying from the Addis Ababa Airport.


Before releasing cargo to the domestic or international market, it is subjected to inspection by the agricultural board which certifies the fish have been handled in phytosanitary conditions.

The placing of fishers under cooperatives which monitor fish production and ensure all requirements are followed to the latter has helped ensure yields do not go below international standards. Make your order of high-quality Ethiopia fish!

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