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ASSESSING ECONOMIC AND WELFARE VALUES OF FISH IN THE LOWER NIGER RIVER

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ABSTRACT

This study was intended to assess the economic and welfare values of fish in the lower Niger River. This study was guided by the following objectives; to examine the economic and welfare values of fish in the lower Niger River. To examine the effect of artisanal fishery production on the lower Niger River on the Nigerian economic growth. To identify the limitation of the artisanal fisheries on the lower Niger River. The study employed the descriptive and explanatory design; questionnaires in addition to library research were applied in order to collect data. Primary and secondary data sources were used and data was analyzed using the chi square statistical tool at 5% level of significance which was presented in frequency tables and percentage. The respondents under the study were 120 residents of the lower Niger River. The study findings revealed that fishery production has an effect on the economic and welfare values of residents of lower Niger River; based on the findings from the study, efforts should be made by the Nigerian government and stakeholders in creating an enabling advanced fishing in the lower Niger River since it economically benefits Nigerians.

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1     BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY

Freshwater capture fisheries in the Lower River Niger Basin provide 47 to 80% of the animal protein consumed, as well as livelihood opportunities on a large scale for the neighboring settlements. However in absence of a solid estimate of the total economic value of these fisheries, their importance remains very poorly recognized by institutions and in development plans, which hampers rural development (Okechi, 2004). Furthermore the respective role of fish and agricultural resources in livelihoods and in rural welfare has never been quantified. Accordingly, the overall aim of this study is to quantify the multiple values of fish resources, interpret findings, analyze implications, and hopes that the high level results and implications will be useful to national decision-makers, development agencies and local actors, for sustainable and improved rural livelihoods. This information should provide essential guidance for future agriculture and rural development programs aimed at improving welfare in the Lower Niger Basin. Economic and welfare consideration in the selection of an appropriate fish harvesting system includes observations of its potential for its efficiency, fisher’s access to operating capital and economic returns, (Hebicha et al., 1994). Economically, fishing on the lower Niger River has the potential for growth into large industry that could lead to wider business network in terms of supply services, fishing and marketing which could provide job opportunities to the teaming populace (Okechi, 2004). It could also provide investment opportunities in feed mills, equipment manufacturing, processing, packaging and the provision of raw ingredients for research and education (Okechi, 2004). Fish industry also provides alternative source of high valued animal protein needs of the populace, contributing over 60 % of the total protein intake of the rural population (Adekoya and Miller, 2004).

Fish has a nutrient profile superior to all terrestrial meats and equally has a high digestible energy that can meet the nutritional requirements of the rural populace (Amiengheme, 2005). In Nigeria, commercial fishing on the lower Niger River started over 40 years ago (Ekwegh, 2005). Meeting the fish protein demand of the current population of over one hundred (100) million people in Nigeria may require over 1.5 million metric tons of fish. Even with aquaculture, production is currently only500,000 metric tons (Raufu et al., 2009). The consumption of nearly 19.38/output/day is low and far below FAOs recommendation of 65gms/output/day (Adewuyi et al., 2010). Therefore the need to invest into fish production to increase and meet the protein needs of its populace whose demand for fish has geometrically increased Kudi et al. (2008) is import. African catfish (Clariasgariepinus) is a disease resistant fish species Ritcher et al. (1987) which can tolerate extreme environmental conditions (FAO, 1999). The cultivation and growth of such specie of freshwater fish could limit losses by farmers, improve income earnings and raise fish farmer’s socio-economic standards. It could also close the demand–supply gap of 0.7 million metric tons that exists nationally, and costs Nigeria about US $0.5billion per year (Kudi et al., 2008). Investment in aquaculture will also reduce the pressure on the natural source of fish including the Niger River.    

1.2     STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

The Niger Delta alone in the lower Niger River contributes more than 50% of the entire domestic Nigerian fish supply, being blessed with abundance of both fresh, brackish and marine water bodies that are inhabited by a wide array of both fin fish and non-fish fauna that supports artisanal fisheries. Despite the dearth of empirical information on the economic and welfare values of the fishery sub-sector to the nation’s economy, there exists a myriad of empirical information on the linkage between fishery production and economic growth in Nigeria and its perspective for sustainable economic development which has formed the basis for policy formulation towards enhancing the fishery sub-sector. Therefore, there is the need to fill the existing gap in literature by providing empirical information on the economic and welfare values of fish in the lower Niger River. In view of the foregoing, this study was carried out to achieve the objective of establishing basic facts about the economic and welfare values of fish in the lower Niger River.  

1.3     OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY

The following are the objectives of this study:

1. To examine the economic and welfare values of fish in the lower Niger River.

2. To examine the effect of artisanal fishery production on the lower Niger River on the Nigerian economic growth.

3. To identify the limitation of the artisanal fisheries on the lower Niger River.

1.4     RESEARCH QUESTIONS

1. To examine the economic and welfare values of fish in the lower Niger River.

2. To examine the effect of artisanal fishery production on the lower Niger River on the Nigerian economic growth.

3. To identify the limitation of the artisanal fisheries on the lower Niger River.

1.6     SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

The following are the significance of this study:

1. The outcome of this study will educate the stakeholders in agricultural sector and the general public at large on the economic and welfare values of fish in the lower Niger River.

2.  This research will be a contribution to the body of literature in the area of the effect of personality trait on student’s academic performance, thereby constituting the empirical literature for future research in the subject area

1.7     SCOPE/LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY

This study will cover the economic and welfare values of artisanal fishery on the lower Niger River with special focus on the Niger Delta rivers.

LIMITATION OF STUDY

Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.

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