ILLEGAL fishing is taking its toll on Ugandaâ€™s aviation industry. Statistics from the transport ministry show that exports declined by 11%, from 34,203 tonnes in the 2008/9 financial year to 30,3271 tonnes the following year.
â€œExport cargo missed its target by 26%, mainly due to the dwindling fish stocks in Lake Victoria. Demand for Ugandaâ€™s exports has also gone down due to the credit crunch,â€ said Godfrey Wandera, the transport ministryâ€™s acting director of transport.
In a statement Wandera noted that while imports grew by 6% from 20,507 tonnes in 2008/9 to 21,823 the following year, import cargo exceeded the target by only 1%.
Returns from the Ugandan fisheries industry has, in the recent past, taken a nosedive, with exports dropping from $145m in 2008 to $82m in 2010.
Experts blame this on illegal fishing. Local fish consumption is valued at $400m and regional at $150m, said Dr. Wilson Mwanja, the commissioner of fisheries.
â€œWe should be earning over $100m in exports if it was not for illicit fish trade,â€ he said.
The Government has, however, laid down interventions to overturn the industryâ€™s fading fortunes.
Enforcing a new fish law, licensing of fishing boats and their owners and the rehabilitation of landing sites are some of the interventions geared at reviving the industry.
â€œThis will upstage the 15,417 tonnes of fish exported in 2010, a drop from 2009â€™s 18,000 tonnes,â€ Mwanja said.
â€œOur forecast this year is that we will export 20,000 tonnes of fish and earn over $100m,â€ he added.
Reducing fish stocks affecting export cargo volumes