Fishing in Benin, 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 $1.9 million in 2003. Lagoon and river fishing remain of primary importance; of an estimated catch of 41,900 tons in 2003, 30,000 tons were from inland waters. The production of fish steadily declined during the 1980s due to over fishing and ecological degradation, but started increasing by the mid-1990s. In 2003, fishery products accounted for 2.8% of agricultural exports.