Ocean fishing, which had been carried on largely by Ghanaian fishermen, is gaining importance at Cotonou (where a fishing port was opened in 1971) and other coastal centers. Under an agreement with the Senegal government, Senegalese fishermen introduced deep-sea-fishing methods to the Beninese, and a national fishing company was established as a joint venture with Libya. Exports of fish commodities amounted to nearly $2.6 million in 2000. Lagoon and river fishing remain of primary importance; of an estimated catch of 32,324 tons in 2000, 26,400 tons were from inland waters. The production of fish steadily declined during the 1980s due to overfishing and ecological degradation, but started increasing by the mid-1990s.
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