Lake Tana is Ethiopia’s largest lake. The region around the lake has a high productivity and has been cultivated and fished intensively for thousands of years. The lake which is situated in the North West of the country is the main source of water in the area. Its adjacent wetlands are of important ecological value and provide the basis for the means of existence for millions of people who all make different use of the lake and its shores. Most of the locals will use the lake to supply for their daily needs.

Lake Tana supports a large fishing industry. According to the Ethiopian Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, 1,454 tonnes of fish are landed each year at Bahir Dar. The fishing industry competes with the traditional fishermen who fish individually using the traditional papyrus boats.

Since there are no inflows that link the lake to other large waterways and the main outflow, the Blue Nile, is obstructed by waterfalls, the lake has a highly distinctive fish fauna.

Today ever-increasing pressure on these ecosystems has resulted in land degradation, erosion and the eutrophication of the lake with considerable effects on the floral and faunal resources, as have the increased use of water pumps and dumping of non-degradable waste products or the introduction of foreign species. To help conservation and protect the environment from further degradation Lake Tana was declared a UNESCO biosphere reserve.