Biological State and Trend
In general most of the demersal resources off
Northwest Africa are considered fully to overexploited (FAO, 2003c; FAO, 2004a, b).
spp.) on the Mauritania
continental shelf have been considered fully
exploited. Amongst the other finfish resources
assessed, the stock of Epinephelus aeneus was
found to be at particular risk, and immediate
action is called for (FAO, 2003c).
Three stocks of common octopus (Octopus
vulgaris) are caught by the Northwest African
cephalopod fisheries, namely Dakhla, Cape Blanc
and Senegambia stocks. Both the northern one,
off Dahkla and the central one off Cape Blanc,
are considered overexploited with recent catches
around 50 000t for the Dahkla stock and 19 000t
for the Cape Blanc stock. The state of the
southern stock off Senegal and the Gambia is
uncertain. Catches of this stock are lower than
those of the two other (FAO, 2003c).
The exploitation of other species of cephalopods,
such as squids (Loligo vulgaris) and cuttlefish
(Sepia officinalis), is less intense than that of
octopus: their catches account for 30 percent of
the cephalopods landed in 2002. Catches landings
of octopus and associated by-catch species from
the Northwest African cephalopod fisheries have
shifted during recent years from Las Palmas,
Canary Islands, to other ports in Northwest
Africa. Management measures taken in
Moroccan exclusive economic zone (EEZ)
include a two month closed season and a
reduction in the number of non-Moroccan vessels
operating in the area.
The 2002 catches of deep-sea shrimp
(Parapenaeus longirostris) and shallow water
shrimp (Penaeus notialis) in the North CECAF
area are around 18 000t, and the stocks seem to
be intensely exploited or even overexploited
In the Mauritania area, pink spiny lobster
(Panulirus mauritanicus) stocks continue to be
heavily exploited. Northern and southern stocks
of green lobsters (Panulirus regius) are probably
overexploited (FAO, 2003b).
Deep sea crab
Stocks of deep-sea
crab (Chaceon maritae) seem to be heavily
The biomasses of the large stocks of small
pelagic in the North CECAF region – sardine
(Sardina pilchardus), sardinella (Sardinella
aurita and Sardinella maderensis), chub
mackerel (Scomber japonicus) and horse
mackerel (Trachurus spp.) – are highly variable.
Acoustic surveys carried out off Northwest
Africa in November-December during the period
1995-2002 showed that the school density of
small pelagic (mainly sardinella, sardine
excluded) was very high, particularly off
Mauritania, with a biomass estimated at about
3.5 million tonnes. In addition, the biomass
estimated by acoustic surveys for mackerel, horse
mackerel and other small pelagic in the area
between Morocco and Senegal was around
2 million tonnes in the November-December
cruises carried out during the period 1995–2002
The sardine biomass estimated by acoustic
methods in the region situated to the North of
Cape Blanc showed an 80 percent decrease from
1996 to 1997. Sardine biomass in North of Cape
Blanc and Mauritanian waters was estimated to
range between 3 and 5 million tonnes during the
periof 1986–1996. Since 1999, biomass in this
region has gradually increased, being estimated at
close to 4.5 million tonnes as of December 2002.
The Spanish and USSR fleets ceased fishing in
Moroccan waters after the Morocco-USSR and
Morocco-EU fishing agreements were not
renewed (1998). Overall, the exploitation rate is
considered to have decreased as a result, but
sardine is also exploited in Mauritanian waters
The combined catch of small pelagics in
Northwest Africa should not be increased above
the average of the last 5 years, excluding the
sardine in Zone C (Sardina pilchardus), (FAO
2004a). The different species groups of
sardinella, horse mackerels and mackerels are
intensively exploited (FAO, 2004a).
Habitat and Biology
Bottom type: Unspecified. Depth zone: Unspecified. Horizontal distribution: Unspecified. Vertical distribution: Unspecified.
Jurisdictional distribution: Unspecified
Considered a single stock: Yes
Source of information
FAO Marine Resources Service, Fishery Resources Division. “Review of the state of world marine fishery resources” FAO Fisheries Technical Paper.
No. 457. Rome, FAO. 2005. 235p.
The bibliographic references are available through the hyperlink displayed in "Source of Information".
“FAO Review of the status of marine resources 1998” 1899-12-30 FAO R.R. FAO.