Key figures: 

EEZ: 734,265 km2

Catches: 1,400 t

Artisanal fleet: 1,588

Motorization: 96 %

Employment: 10200

Consumption: 25 kg/hab/yr

Exports: 0.65 M USD

Share in exports: 82 %

Share in GDP: 2-3 %

The archipelago of Cabo Verde is situated at 450 km from the West African coastline. Its total population, estimated during a general population census conducted in 2010 (INE, 2010), is 530,000 inhabitants with an annual demographic growth rate of 1.5%.

Fisheries context

The country is composed of ten islands (Santo Antão, São Vicente, Santa Luzia, São Nicolau, Sal, Boavista, Maio, Santiago, Fogo and Brava), of which nine are inhabited.

With a total surface area of 4,033 km2, Cabo Verde lies between latitude 13° 23’ and 17° 12’ North and between longitude 22° 40’ and 25° 22’ West. The climate is dry though pleasant as a result of trade winds with an average temperature of approximately 25° C and a relatively narrow range of temperatures.

The economy of Cabo Verde relies mainly on the tertiary sector, which in 2002 accounted for 71.6% of GDP. The secondary sector (industries and construction) accounted for 17.2% of GDP and the primary sector 11.2%.

In terms of the country’s trade balance, exports cover only 4% of imports and food products represent 40% of total imports. The volume of sales abroad fell sharply from 63% of total exports in the mid-1990s to 19% in 1999 and 5.5% in 2001.

The share in GDP of the fisheries sector was estimated between 2% and 3% in 2014 for the primary sector and between 7% and 10% for the secondary sector. Artisanal fisheries contributes about 64% of the value added generated by the sector due to its significant landings. The fisheries sector largely contributes to ensuring food security with a per capita consumption of 25 kg. These products are made available to the populations at a cost consistent with their earnings.

The most recent data (2016) indicates that the fisheries sector has created 10,200 direct jobs, representing 2% of the total population and 5% of the labour force. About 4,736 fishers were identified. Over 3,500 fish merchants have also been identified in Cabo Verde.

The continental shelf covers a surface area of 5,394 km2 with an average depth of 200 metres and an exclusive economic zone of 734,265 km2.

Institutional framework

The Ministry of Economy and Employment oversees the fisheries sector and implements the sectoral policy.

The National Fisheries Development Institute (INDP) is a scientific public body in charge of assessing stocks, monitoring and developing fisheries at the country level. The INDP is based in Mindelo and has an office in Praia. Artisanal fisheries is monitored by surveyors located in 17 of the 97 ports in the country where 50% of the fleet is based. Surveys conducted cover approximately 25% of monthly landings.

The Fisheries Resources Management Plan describes the key principles based on sustainable exploitation, preservation and protection of the marine environment. The PGRP details the sectoral policies identified in the current Government Programme, in the Fisheries Sectoral Policy Paper and in the Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (DSCRP). Its objectives are to ensure the rational and planned exploitation of fisheries resources, strengthen capacities in entrepreneurship and competitiveness, boost national production, decrease the trade deficit, ensure food security and the quality of fisheries products, and create jobs.

The main platform for consultations between relevant administrative services and professionals is the National Fisheries Council established in 2005 which approves the management plans before they are submitted to the Council of Ministers. Federations of professional organizations are non-existent at the national level, and responsibility in terms of fisheries management is yet to be transferred to the local level, as is the case for environmental management which has been transferred to municipal councils


Fisheries resources in Cabo Verde are exploited by national and foreign vessels. The latter obtain authorization to fish in the EEZ of the country following fisheries contracts and agreements signed between Cabo Verde and foreign countries or ship-owners.

All vessels, national and foreign, must obtain a fishing licence to operate in the country’s EEZ. For local vessels, the licence for artisanal fishing can be obtained free of charge from the port authority after inspection of the vessel. Industrial and semi-industrial fishing is subject to the payment of a symbolic fee, currently set at € 550.00 per year for tuna vessels.

Artisanal fisheries

In 2016, the artisanal fleet in Cabo Verde adds up to a total of 1,688 vessels, most of which are “boats” employing over 10,200 people. Total catches for this year stand at 4,400 tons, of which about 30% were tuna, 35% small pelagics, 28% demersal fish, and less than 6% sharks, molluscs, shellfish and other species.

Industrial fisheries

In 2016, the industrial and semi-industrial fleet comprised 91 vessels with lengths varying between 9 and 26 m, engine power between 19 and 500 HP, tonnage between 2.5 and 121 gross registered tons, and a crew of 8 to 14 members. These general include 30-year old tuna vessels, lobster boats and seine boats belonging to private operators. Total catches in the semi-industrial sub-sector for this year stands at 9,840 tons, of which about 66% were tuna, 22% small pelagics, 10% demersal fish, and less than 2% sharks, molluscs, shellfish and other species.

State of the resources

The overall potential in waters under the jurisdiction of Cabo Verde varies between 36,000 and 44,000 tons per year for an overall catch level of 10,000 tons per year. Tuna presents a potential of 25,000 tons for an average catch level of 6,000 tons per year. This estimated potential does not however include many species present in the national EEZ such as molluscs, cephalopods, sharks, sea turtles and certain demersal species found in rocky shoals as well as other resources in the deep waters whose potential is unknown.

Demersal species are mostly harvested by artisanal fishers. They offer a very limited potential estimated at about one thousand tons. The stock of lobsters was highly over-exploited and access is now strictly restricted.

The abundance of small coastal pelagics is also low, but there is still some potential for artisanal fishers using ringnets and gillnets.

The only resources with higher potential than catches are tuna and oceanic pelagic species. Their abundance is highly variable and they are difficult to access for small fisheries.

Access to resources

Cabo Verde has signed a reciprocity agreement with Senegal and a convention with Mauritania. Only Senegal has an industrial fleet fishing in the EEZ of Cabo Verde.

In addition to these agreements, a contract was signed with the Federation of Japanese Cooperatives and a Partnership agreement with the European Community covering the 2014-2018 period.