Technical efficiency of small-scale fishing households in Tanzanian coastal villages: an empirical analysis

  • Jennifer K Sesabo International Max-Planck Research School for Maritime Affairs, c/o Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law, Mittelweg 187, D-20148 Hamburg, Germany; Research Unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University and Center f
  • Richard SJ Tol Research Unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University and Center for Marine and Atmospheric Science, Bundesstrasse 55, D-20146 Hamburg, Germany


The effort to conserve fisheries resources and improve the welfare of small-scale fishing households is an important objective of poverty reduction strategies in Tanzania. The success of such strategies depends on both the diversity and the level of efficiency within small-scale fishing households. This paper examines the technical efficiency of Tanzanian small-scale fishing households, based on data from two coastal villages located near Bagamoyo and Zanzibar, using a stochastic frontier model with technical inefficiency. The estimated mean technical efficiency of small-scale fishing households was 52%, showing that they were operating far below optimum efficiency. The efficiency of individual fishing households was positively associated with fishing experience, size of farming land, distance to the fishing ground and potential market integration; it was negatively related to non-farm employment and bigger household sizes. Future policies aimed at conservation and development in fishing communities should provide mechanisms that improve the access of small-scale fishing households to less-destructive fishing tools (via the provision of credit facilities) and to markets, as well as the creation of new employment opportunities in other sectors. In addition, measures which check the use of illegal fishing gear, overcapitalisation and open-access problems should be considered.

Keywords: coastal areas, fisheries development, policy development, socio-economic factors, stochastic production frontier

African Journal of Aquatic Science 2007, 32(1): 51–61

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1727-9364
print ISSN: 1608-5914