Lake Tana's (Ethiopia) Labeobarbus Species Flock (Cypriniformes: Cyprinidae): a Future of Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Exploitation?

M. de Graaf, L.A.J. Nagelkerke, E. Dejen, T. Wudneh, J.W.M. Osse, F.A. Sibbing

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference paperAcademic


Lake Tana, the source of the (Blue) Nile, is situated in the north-western highlands of Ethiopia and harbours an extraordinary diversity of cyprinid fishes. While cyprinid fishes are common and abundant throughout the world’s fresh water systems, the Labeobarbus species of Lake Tana form the only remaining intact species flock of large cyprinid fishes. Lake Tana and its Labeobarbus species flock provide(d?) an unique opportunity to study the selective forces driving speciation due, among others, to its relatively undamaged state. However, this undamaged state of the Labeobarbus species flock is seriously threatened by anthropogenic activities that have intensified over the past 30 years. Between the 1990s and early 2000s, Labeobarbus stocks decreased by 75%, most likely due to the increased fishing pressure after the introduction of a motorized commercial gillnet fishery. Many of the lake’s Labeobarbus species are highly vulnerable to exploitation during their spawning aggregations and upstream migrations. Erosion due to poor land use might have also contributed to habitat degradation of the upstream spawning sites. Between 2000 and 2010 the commercial fishing fleet has expanded from 5-10 to 50-100 boats, but the Labeobarbus CPUE of the commercial fishery appeared to have declined a further ~50% over the same period. A (final) blow to the survival of the species flock will probably be the planned and realized (Rib River) irrigation dams in the spawning rivers.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 4th International Conference on African Fish and Fisheries, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 22-26 September 2008
EditorsJ. Snoeks, A. Getahun
Place of PublicationTervuren, belgium
PublisherRoyal Museum for Central Africa
Publication statusPublished - 2008
EventConference on African Fish and Fisheries, Ethiopia 2008 -
Duration: 22 Sept 200826 Sept 2008


ConferenceConference on African Fish and Fisheries, Ethiopia 2008


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