Ethiopia is a country in the horn of Africa endowed with numerous aquatic resources, including over 20 natural lakes, 12 large river basins, over 75 wetlands, and 15 reservoirs. Micro and macro-dam construction and river impoundment have created innumerable large and small water bodies. Both inland capture fisheries and aquaculture activities are concentrated around the many lakes and rivers in the Rift Valley, as well as around the Blue Nile, which supplies water to the country’s largest water body, Lake Tana.
Aquaculture farms in Ethiopia are small-scale, subsistence- oriented and only to a certain degree commercial. It is estimated that there are more than 1300 subsistence fish farmers in Ethiopia with a pond size of about 100–300 m². The main species farmed is tilapia. Most pond fish farmers combine fish farming with irrigation, crop farming and horticulture. Candidate species for aquaculture include tilapia (O. niloticus) and the African catfish (Clarias spp). Limited research activities are underway.
Aquaculture production in Ethiopia has not really taken off, and is rather a potential than an actual practice. Accurate data on production volumes are not documented. However, according to FAO estimates, in recent years production has increased from 15 to 25 tonnes annually.
The Ethiopian government has identified aquaculture as one of the strategic areas of intervention to address the problem of food insecurity and poverty in the rural areas. It is considered an important economic activity that supports diversification, integration and improvement in rural livelihoods (MoA and FAO, 2009). The government recently re-emphasised the significance of fish culture through a joint effort with the FAO Sub-Regional Office for Eastern Africa (FAOSFE) to draw up a National Aquaculture Development Strategy (NADS), which was approved at the end of 2009. The overall objective of the strategy is to define a regulatory framework and to build a strong basis for the development of aquaculture in the country.