Illegal practices threaten Uganda’s fisheries sector

kampala – Rampant illegal fishing and trading in immature fish are threatening Nile perch and Tilapia fish species in Ugandan lakes, the country’s Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industries and Fisheries has said.
Uganda to set up a police section to protect the fisheries sector. Net photo
Uganda to set up a police section to protect the fisheries sector. Net photo

kampala – Rampant illegal fishing and trading in immature fish are threatening Nile perch and Tilapia fish species in Ugandan lakes, the country’s Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industries and Fisheries has said.

This has prompted the ministry to call for the establishment of an agriculture/fisheries police section to strengthen monitoring, control and surveillance on all water bodies to guard the country’s second most exported commodity.

The ministry said the fisheries sector was being threatened mainly by the use of illegal fishing gears like undersized nets, beach seines, cast nets and prohibited fishing methods.

“As a result of the illegalities, the cost of fishing compared to the gains a fisherman receives has increased. Some fish factories are threatened with closure due to lack of raw material, which affects national income in terms of tax revenues to government,” said Jackson Wadanya, the commissioner in charge of fisheries resource management and development.

According to Wadanya, about 18,320 metric tonnes of fish worth $108.6m was exported in the 2012/13 financial year as a result of the recovery, resulting from strong enforcement for the last two years.

Wadanya made the remarks on World Fisheries Day, which is celebrated every November 21 to highlight the importance of the world’s waterways and fisheries to human lives. He said the sector provides opportunities with over 250 fish species available in the five major lakes and 160 minor lakes and dams that are economically-important for trade and food.

“Uganda’s potential for aquaculture is high and this can be used to close the gap in the deficiency of raw materials for fish export and consumption demand. There is also market for fish in the region,” he added.

Challenges affecting the fisheries sector include limited public-private partnerships in the aquaculture sector, inadequate quality of fish seed and feed to boost aquaculture development and issues related to fish quality and handling.

Reports indicate that more than 25 per cent of the world’s dietary protein is provided by fish with more than 100 million metric tonnes of fish consumed annually.

It is reported that world over, annual fisheries exports are valued at $85-90b, while fisheries and aquaculture employ 43 million individuals.

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