Tilapia juveniles for tuna live bait on Cabo Verde

Target species for tuna fishing in Cabo Verdean waters are the yellow fin tuna, skipjack tuna, wahoo and bigeye tuna.
Cabo Verde has an internationally agreed ICCAT quota to catch 29,000 tonnes of yellow fin tuna per year, of which only 4,000 tonnes is caught and mainly by the EU-registered vessels with huge nets, resulting in a large percentage of by-catch of unwanted species.
Cabo Verdean fishermen themselves focus mainly on skipjack tuna, catching it by artisanal pole and line fishing. Pole and line fishing is internationally considered by ICCAT and MSc as the most sustainable way of catching tuna. These artisanal tuna fishers on Cabo Verde need about 600 tonnes of live bait fishes per year to be able to catch 6,000 tonnes of skipjack tuna. The live bait fishes, mostly mackerel, they catch themselves.
As such, the fishermen spend 50% of their effective tuna fishing time in catching live bait. They cannot reach the agreed quota, due to lack of live bait fishes and fishing time.
This project will facilitate the artisanal fishermen to continue with their sustainable way of pole and line tuna fishing by producing tilapia live bait. The tilapia farm of 7 ha pond area on São Vicente will yearly produce 23 million young fishes of 12 to 15 grams.
For this purpose the Brazilian company Universo Pescados LTDA and the Cabo Verdean partner Sociedade Ultramarina De Conservas, LDA (SUCLA) will form a joint venture. The bait fishes will be raised in brackish waters with state of the art technology and adapted to seawater prior to delivery in the harbour.
The project will contribute in the process of adapting the tuna fishery chain in Cabo Verde towards a sustainable way of exploitation.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

The company will follow the Cabo Verdean labour laws, but offer all kinds of extra benefits as described at the employment section. The joint venture will train all tuna fishermen on the requirements of ICCAT and assist the government with the implementation of the code of conduct for responsible fisheries.


  • Employment and working conditions

The company will employ 25 workers of which 4 high- and medium-level. This will increase to 32 people in the two years after the project.
The salaries are at least 10% above minimum wages in the sector. The company will pay a lot of attention towards safe working conditions.
Fringe benefits include the canteen facilities, health insurance and protective clothing.
The largest part of the investments in hardware are the investments in pond construction by local contractors with heavy machinery. This will take about 12 months for 10 to 12 people.

  • Innovation/Transfer of knowledge

The knowledge for construction of the ponds will be transferred to the construction companies. All knowledge and skills necessary for tilapia breeding and fish farming will be new for Cabo Verde. As well as the process of adaptation towards the salty sea water.

  • Chain effects

The project will have a positive impact on the tuna fishing and processing chain. It will enable the Cabo Verdean fishermen to catch more skipjack tuna on the artisanal way at a lower cost, making better use of the quota allocated to Cabo Verde.
It will enable SUCLA and other tuna processing companies in Cabo Verde to increase their production and to introduce MSc certification in future. As the international requirements of ICCAT are more strict on tuna fishery, this improvement of the first link of the chain will enable the Cabo Verdean fishers to continue their sustainable way of fishing and creating a better and long-term market access.

  • Environment

The impact on the environment will be positive as the amount of caught wild mackerel for the purpose of live bait will decrease and the chain of tuna fisheries of the Cabo Verdean fishermen will be made more sustainable, in future even leading to MSc certification.The project will favour the artisanal way of fishing, which has no side-catch as compared to the big international vessels with seiners. An environmental impact assessment will be done on the impact of the farm. The used water will be filtered before reaching again the ocean.
There is no risk that tilapia introduced in the marine environment will lead to marine populations, as the live bait is almost 100% male, tilapia is a fresh water fish and needs special (not present) requirements in their reproductive phase.
Moreover, the natural populations in the West African rivers have never led to marine populations.

  • Position of women

Fifteen out of the 25 employees will be women, to be employed in administrative functions, as feeders and at the laboratory.


Project summary

Project number:
Total budget:
€ 607,742
Cabo Verde
Project status:
Budget spent:
100.00 %
Private Sector Investment programme (PSI)
Tied status:
Partially tied
Project partners:
Universo Pescados LTDA, Sociedade Ultramarina De Conservas, LDA, Netherlands Enterprise Agency
Fishery development