THE price of fish maws, locally known as enuuni, has gone up following an increase in their prices worldwide.
The price of dry fish maws is now sh100,000 a kilogramme, up from around sh40,000 in the late 1990s, according to Hajji Ali Ssekitoleko, an agent in Buvuma Island, in Mukono.
Fish maws are white hollow, but hard membranes found inside the body of the Nile Perch. They are too hard, but light when they dry up.
Ssekitoleko, who is also the chairman of Lubya Island, one of the 52 islands that make up Buvuma, said he buys the maws from fishermen and sells them to Gasama and Brothers, a Senegalese firm based in Old Kampala. The company is one of several others that export fish maws abroad.
â€œI buy the fresh fish maws from fishermen depending on their sizes and weight. Big fish maws can weigh about two kilogrammes when still fresh.
â€œWhen it dries, the weight reduces up to 1kg,â€ he told The New Vision in an interview in Lubya recently.
Ssekitoleko said there are three categorises of fish maws; large, medium and small. The large ones, he said, weigh 100 grams and above when they are dry, and go for sh100,000 a kilogramme.
Medium fish maws weigh between 99 and 70 grams, while small ones weigh between 69 and 13 grams. A kilogramme of dry medium fish maws costs sh50,000, while the small ones costs sh20,000.
Ssekitoleko said the fish maws are exported to mainly Hong Kong and China where they are on demand.
Whereas Ssekitoleko buys the fish maws at sh100,000 a kilogramme from the fishermen, he sells them at between sh150,000 and sh200,000 to the exporters.
â€œThis is inclusive of the transport costs and the time I spend drying them because I buy most of them from the fishermen when they are still fresh,â€ he explained.
Ssekitoleko said besides being edible, fish maws are used in the manufacture of plane and space shuttle body parts, car parts, surgical stitching threads and anesthetic drugs.
Ibrahim Sebere, a beach management unit information officer on Lubya Island, said the fish maws had in a way helped reduce immature fishing.
â€œFishermen have discovered that when you trap an old Nile Perch, you will reap big. First, you will gain from the fish itself, then its maw,â€ he noted.
He said the low cost of small maws discourage the catching of immature fish.
Fish maw prices soar on global market