Fish is generally regarded as a primary source of protein for many poor African fishing communities. The present study compared the relative importance of fish as a high-quality dietary protein source with meat in fishing communities in two states in Nigeria. Fifty fishing households in which active fishing was the primary activity and fifty non-fishing households (agriculture being stated as primary activity) in traditional fishing communities were randomly selected in the coastal state of Lagos and the inland state of Niger. A simple weighing balance was designed and given to each household to measure fish or meat entering the household for consumption. A comparison of consumption using this method against the 24 h recall method revealed that the recall method accounted for only one third of actual fish consumed. Overall, the price of fish was higher and consumption lower in Lagos compared with Niger State. At the household level in both states, the consumption of fish in fishing households was twice that of non-fishing households, whereas meat consumption was similar. A total of thirty-nine different fish species were consumed, with Tilapia contributing 24 % by weight of the fish consumed. In both states, beef was the most frequently consumed meat, followed by goat meat. The study revealed a high preference for fresh fish. The highest fish consumption occurred in March, corresponding to the period of lowest meat consumption. On a unit weight basis, heads of households consumed 59 % more fish than their wives or children.
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