The study examines women and fishing among the people of Ibeno: 1900-2010. The Ibeno sea provides sea foods which is a source of protein as it is processed into fish meal for feeding animals and it puts the water into a better use. The study showes that before the 20th century, women took fishing as their occupation as they went fishing in rivers and creeks. They also processed the fishes and sold them in the market either in fresh or dried form to buyers all over Nigeria. During the early 20th century, women were involved in fishing using what was known in Ibeno dialect as ‘Esek’ which was used to catch the kind of fish known as ‘Afiri Iyak’ and ‘Ekere’ was used to catch ‘Atibe Abasi’. When nets were introduced, women used it with boats and paddles and the type of fishing was called ‘Nmamana’. Women stopped fishing when engine boats and trawler were introduced which were used to catch fishes of different types and sizes. Women then focused on active processing and marketing as they took it as a full time occupation which has gone a long way to ensure their development and sustainability, boosting fish processing and marketing and as improved their livelihood. The research adopts the multi-disciplinary approach with primary and secondary source materials.   


Title page - - - - - - - - i

Certification - - - - - - - - ii

Dedication - - - - - - - - iii

Acknowledgements - - - - - - - iv

Abstract - - - - - - - - v

Table of content - - - - - - - vi

List of Plates - - - - - - - - viii

List of Appendix - - - - - - - ix


Background of the Study - - - - - - 1

Statement of Research Problem - - - - - 2

Aim and objectives of the Study - - - - - 3

Significance of the Study - - - - - - 3

Scope and Limitation of the Study - - - - - 4

Methodology of the study - - - - - - 5

Organization of Chapters - - - - - - 6

Literature Review - - - - - - - 7

Endnotes - - - - - - - - 11


Geographical location of Ibeno Land - - - - - 12

Origin, Migration and Settlement - - - - - 13

Political Organization - - - - - - - 14

Economic Activities of Ibeno People - - - - - 19

Religion of the Area - - - - - - - 22

End Notes - - - - - - - - 23


Major Fishing Ports and Markets  - - - - - 24

Fishing Methods - - - - - - - 25

Fishing Implements - - - - - - - 30

Fish Processing and Preservation - - - - - 31

End Notes - - - - - - - - 34


Fish Processing - - - - - - - 35

Marketing and Distribution - - - - - - 36

Challenges Faced by Women - - - - - - 37 

End Notes - - - - - - - - 39


Summary - - - - - - - - 40

Conclusion - - - - - - - - 40

Appendices    - - - - - - - - 42

Bibliography - - - - - - - - 43


Background of the Study 

The major economic activity of Ibeno women is fishing. For people living in Ibeno land, fishing has been their main source of livelihood and fish food provides income for many households and animal protein necessary for growth. 

Women have engaged actively in fish business in many parts of the world today. Women have been reported to play vital role in fishery related activities around the world, especially in the coastal environment, where these activities are classified majorly in three ways; fishing, processing and marketing.1 The role they play has become so crucial as it reduces poverty and enhances food security.

In the European countries for instance, women control 39% of the fish industry, making a huge amount of money for themselves and their families.2 Fish production is customarily considered as a masculine venture, women’s role in fish related activities is though supportive, imperative and indispensable.3The crucial engagement of women in natural resources - based occupation such as fisheries in the rural communities has long been accepted but not recognized and not valued as men contributed.4Their role is repeatedly being ignored, due to the primordial systems of social setting that is prevalent in the rural areas of many developing countries like Nigeria.5

Women participate actively in fishing business as they do it as a full time business thereby providing for their families. There is therefore the need to promote and to encourage women folks in this sector, so as to boost supply of food and improve the economic welfare of their families.6

The study emphasizes the role women play in fishing occupation as they earn a living through the fishing business which has brought about their development and sustainability. 

Statement of Research Problem 

IbenoLocal Government Area is located at the south end of AkwaIbom State. It is blessed with a natural resources based occupation which is fishing.

During the colonial period (1900- 1960), women were involved in active fishing and this helped in improving the economic welfare of their families. But from the post colonial period (1960 – present), women no longer go fishing but buy the fishes in fresh forms from men who go to the Atlantic Ocean. Women only engage in the processing and marketing of the fish. 

The events that led to the stopping of women actively participating in fishing as well as its development over time appears to be too important to be ignored. However, little appears to be known or written about the roles women play in fishing activities in Ibeno land which appears to be the main occupation for the women. The present study identitiesthis neglect as a gap in the occupation of Ibeno indigenes and sets out to narrow it. 

Aim and Objectives of the Study        

The aim of the study is to examine the roles of women in the fishing occupation of the Ibeno people, its origin, development, impacts and challenges faced by women. The study seeks to:

i. Evaluate the origin, migration and development of Ibeno land.

ii. Examine the fishing activities of women in Ibeno.

iii. Identify the impacts of fishing and the challenges faced by women in the occupation. 

Significance of the Study

The study examines the fact that fishing was the main occupation of women and their lives were greatly influenced by their environment. The study is significant in a number of ways. 

First, it findings will create better awareness on the nature of occupation engaged by women. Second, its will be of great benefit to the AkwaIbom State Government and the community where the study is focused on, which will encourage government’s patronage, thereby attracting government loans and credit facilities to the fish business women. Third, it highlights the impacts and challenges women face in the course of their occupation. 

Finally, the study or report serves as a reference material to the general public especially up-coming researchers who may desire to carry out further research on the subject.

However, as the result of the product involved in the occupation which has attracted buyers all over Nigeria to patronize it, a number of things has also been introduced and they include the establishment of markets, schools, churches, water, police post etc. This has brought about the development of Ibeno land. These things provided as the still do, channels of communication and trade between various communities.7

Scope and Limitation of Study  

The thematic scope of this study is women and fishingamong the people of Ibeno, the geographical scope is Ibeno Local Government Area, AkwaIbom State and the chronological scope is from 1900-2010. The study is limited to this specific time limits. 

Theresearcher encountered challenges in the course of embarking on this research. The challenges were inadequate and recent literatures to guide the study as there were no books to my knowledge on the women and fishing occupation of Ibeno people. 

Also, this work was mainly based on oral interviews by indigenes of Ibeno land. Interviews were recorded and pictures of different fishing implements and people were taken by the researcher with a recording device (phone) but the phone got lost which made it difficult to retrieve the pictures taken. However, in spite of these challenges, the researcher was able to have access to very valuable information and much efforts were made to go back to the field and retake the pictures of fishing implements and people carrying out fishing activities. The researcher was able to carry out the assigned task dutifully. 


The study which adopt the multi- disciplinary approach, depends on both primary and secondary sources. Primary sources includeoral evidence whilesecondary sources includepublished and non published sources. In this study, oral history and oral interviews was conducted with relevant indigenes of Ibeno land. Villagers interviewed were from the villages of Ukpenekang, Iwuoachang, Odoro-Ikot, Okoroutip, Iwuo-Okpom, Atabrikang, Ntafre and other village within Ibeno. This make up the primary non written sources.

In the secondary sources, written sources like textbook, journals, articles, past project works, the internets as well as government reports were also consulted to complement materials from oral evidence. 

The various interviews conducted on Ibenoindigenes from various villages was conducted starting from 13th April, 2017 to 17th April, 2017. A recording device (phone) was used during the oral interviews. The languages used in the course of the interviews were Ibeno language,Pidgin and English language and this was never a barrier to this work. The primary and secondary sources were gotten through serious researches and interviews. The evidences gotten from the indigenes were decoded and synthesized in order to get the statement. Functional, Causal and Covering Law approaches were used in the present study. 

Organization of Chapters             

This research work is organized in five chapters. The first chapter is the general introduction, which includes the background of the study, statement of research problem, aim and objectives of the study, significance of the study, scope and Limitation of study, methodology, organization of chapters. The chapter finally ends with literature review. 

Chapter two is titled the land and people of Ibeno Local Government Area. It covers contents as origin, migration and settlement of Ibenopeople, geographical location of the area, their economic activities, political organisations and the religion of the area. Chapter three of the study is titled methods of fishing in Ibeno. The chapter stresses areas as the  major fishing ports/markets, fishing methods, fishing implements, fish processing and preservation.

Chapter four of the research deals with the roles of women is fishing industries and covers such areas as fish processing, fish marketing/distribution and the challenges faced by women in the fishing industry. 

Chapter five of the research is concerned with the summary, conclusion, bibliography and appendices resulting from the entire study. 

Literature Review         

Studies on the Niger Delta appear to give little attention to Ibeno as a district trading port. Even though few trading ports in the Niger Delta featured in existing literature, Ibeno appears to feature the least. Although there are some studies on fishing occupation in AkwaIbom State. No work has been written on the fishing occupation of Ibeno people not to talk of the fishing activities of women in Ibeno, only that,Ibeno has been mentioned as one of the Local Government Area that has fishing as her main occupation. 

The available materials that sheds light on fishing in Ibeno happens to be works that mentions the economy of Ibeno,due to the fact that fishing cannot be ruled out when writing on Ibeno history or their economy, fishing is usually mentioned but not detailed.

The Ibibio pre-colonial economy solely depended largely on land. The land was their source of water, seas, rivers and oceans and it provided different species of fishes, crayfish etc which was sold to many communities. They attached great importance to their land. They soil provided for them both food and cash crops.8

Among the available books that mentions fishing in Ibeno includes Who are the Ibibio?Written by Edet A. Udo. In this book, only one chapter concentrates on the economy of the Ibibio, which mentions fishing as one of the occupation of Ibeno people. 

Also, the author explains that right from birth each child in these areas was taught the directions and names of winds, how to paddle a canoe and to put up and take down the sail, he was taught various methods of catching fish, and how to prepare them for sale to customers…9

Edet A. Ukpong in his book titled An enquiring into culture: Ibibio Names emphasizes that a large number of occupants of the Ibibio riverine region are fishermen. And that due to the riverine nature of thearea within which we have the Ibeno, Eket, Oron, Okobo and IkotAbasi rivers in addition to a number of inland water bodies such as the Qua Iboe River, the Cross River, the Enyong Creek and the Ubium Creek. The fishermen who often remained in the line (fishing points) make use of tools like spear, hooks and lines, fishing nets, traps and harpoon to catch fishes like crayfish, mackerel and prawns, sting rays among others.  (See picture of a fishing net on page 21)

Similarly, the book A History of Itam people written by OtoabasiAkpan et al stresses that some traditional instruments used in catching fishes in Ibeno were ‘Uwaam’, ‘Nsiim’, ‘Ndidua’ and ‘Itoong’. That like hunting, fishing was a specialized activity that equally needed skill and concentration. Also, that canoe was the main craft in use, and harpoons, net, lines and traps remained the principal means of catching fish10. 

In the same vein, IniEtuk in his work, Ibibio indigenous economy published in witness to history, edited by Philip Afaha, examines the fish implements used in streams, rivers and small water bodies like fish traps (Nsiim), line hood (Uwaam), fishing net with sinkers (ichiene) as well as landing posts for the sale of fishes to the hinterland people and their neighbours. 

Also, in the book titled AkwaIbom and Cross River States. The land, the people and their culture elaborates fishing as an aspect of economic activities of the Ibibio. Imaobong Emmanuel Ekpo and ManduAsikpoEssien – Ibok in their article titled Development prospect and Challenges of Artisanal Fisheries in AkwaIbom State, Nigeria.Elucidates on the importance of fishing in Ibenoarea as a very lucrativeactivity which creates a lot of employment (direct and indirect) to over thousands of people who engage in it. According to the writers, fishing has been appreciated as a means of livelihood since its does not require too much sophisticated implements and crafts which most of the fishermen cannot afford. The work states the advantages of fishing, mode of fishing as well as the processing, preservation, distribution and marketing at the fish landings. 

The work also states some problems faced by women fish traders, a few of which are lack of maintenance of fishing implements, communal crisis, lack of security, constant fire outbreak and lack of access to fishing aids in form of incentives to the women fish traders by governments and its citizens. 

There is need to note that all these work do not have much to say on the fishing activities of women in Ibeno, but have only sheded a light on the economic activity which is fishing. This work is aimed at giving full details about the women and the fishing occupation of the Ibeno people. 


1M. O. Olufayo, The Gender Roles of Women in Agriculture and Food Security in Nigeria- Proceedings of the 16th International Institute of Fisheries Economics and Trade Conference, July 16-20-, Tanzania, 2012, P. 7. 

2L. Aquilar, Fisheries and Aquaculture in coastal Areas Zone: Gender makes the difference. lUCN Briefing Notes, Geneva, 2002.

3P. I. Cliffe,O. A. Akinrotimiand, I. F.IbemereThe Role of Fish in improving child Nutrition in Nigeria,J. Technology, Education, Nigeria, 16:20-30.

4N. C. Obetta,  P. IIfejika. and, G. O. Nwabeze,Assessment of fishery content in Agricultural activities of the Rural Women in Kukuwa Local Government Area (LGA) of Borno State. Proccedings of the Annual conference of the fisheries society of Nigeria, November 29, 2007, Illorin, Nigeria, pp. 148-152.

5H. I. Ibrahim, A. A. Kigbu, and R.Mohammed.Women’s Experiences in small scale fish processing in lake. Feferuwa fishery community, Nassarawa State, Nigeria. Livestock Res. Rural Development,vol, 23,2011.

6IFAD, Socio-Economic and Gender Analysis Training Workshop for IFAD Projects in Nigeria: Kastina, Nigeria, 22-26 November, 2014. International Fund for Agricultural Development, 2008.

7Njoku Onwuka, Economic History of Nigeira 19th and 20thcenturies (Enugu: Nigeria, Magnet Publishers, 2001),P.5.

8Edet, A. Udo, Who are the Ibibios?(Onitsha Africana-FEP Publishers, 1980). 

9Ibid; p.223

10OtoabasiAkpan, Peter UdoAkpan, et al. A History of Itam people(Uyo: Ndelo Educational Publishers, 2012), pp.174-177.  




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