Illuminating informal cross-border trade in processed small pelagic fish in West Africa

Springer Nature
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Maritime Studies, 2022, 21, (4), pp. 519-532
Issue Date:
Full metadata record
Trade in processed small pelagic fish and informal cross-border trade (ICBT) are linked to livelihood activities in West Africa. Although these fish products are being traded informally in West Africa, research on this topic is limited. This study builds on a multi-partner supported ‘FishTrade’ initiative in Africa to illuminate the volume and value of informal fish trade across the Ghana–Togo–Benin (GTB) borders, and the socio-demographic determinants supporting participation and profitability in this trade. We used a structured survey and focus group interviews to obtain data from women fish traders, who handle the entire fish trade in three major Ghanaian markets where ICBT activities are concentrated. Our results showed ICBT across these borders constitutes significant economic and livelihood potential, estimated at about 6000 MT in volume and US$14 million in market value per annum. Furthermore, socio-demographic factors, such as fish traders’ years of experience and membership in an unofficial market cooperative, positively influence participation and profitability, but access to market information negatively affects participation. However, geographical distance, large household size and access to micro-finance negatively affect ICBT profitability. Our findings illuminate that consumers’ purchasing power, fish taste and preference, ICBT’s economic opportunities and a shared heritage and connection significantly influence this form of trading along the GTB borders. We conclude that ICBT in these small pelagic processed fish represents untapped potential for local livelihood and highlight the need for further research on this topic.
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