The fate of the barbs of Gumara River, Ethiopia

  • Abebe Ameha Fisheries Research and Training Centre, Bahir Dar, Ethiopia
  • Alemu Assefa Agricultural Office, Dera Woreda, South Gonder, Ethiopia


The barbs (Barbus spp., Cyprinidae, Teleostei) of Gumara River, Lake Tana, Ethiopia, have become the point of interest for today's researchers and fishermen. The presence of almost 100% reproductively ripe (mature) fish upstream and the highest standardized catch per unit of effort for gillnets during July to September proves their seasonal spawning migration. The Gumara barb market records made in Woreta town, that cover about 75% of the river's one side total seasonal catch, indicate that the catch level has decreased tremendously within four years: from 19.0 tons in 1995 to 2.2 tons in 1998. The accompanying total number of scoop nets (the most common fishing gear used on Gumara River) rose from year to year: 169 nets in 1995, 204 nets in 1996, 409 nets in 1997 and 700 nets in 1998. The average weight of the commercial catches has decreased almost by half within a period of three years: from 923g in 1995 to 481g in 1998. Catch per Unit Effort (cpue) estimates made for the traditional fishing gear used (scoop net, fish trap and line and hook), however, did not show sharp declines. These findings show that the barbs of Gumara River could be in danger and appropriate management measures should be taken in time, most preferably closed fishing area together with fishing gear restrictions during the main rainy season.

Key words/phrases: Average size, Barbus spp., catch per unit of effort, Gumara River, spawning

SINET: Ethiopian Journal of Science Vol.25(1) 2002: 1-18