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Over fishing wrecks export earnings

By Vision Reporter

Added 18th June 2009 03:00 AM

THE ugly effects of over fishing have started wrecking havoc to the fish export sector, lowering earnings to sh49.7b in 2008, down from the sh60.6b registered the previous year.

THE ugly effects of over fishing have started wrecking havoc to the fish export sector, lowering earnings to sh49.7b in 2008, down from the sh60.6b registered the previous year.

By David Muwanga

THE ugly effects of over fishing have started wrecking havoc to the fish export sector, lowering earnings to sh49.7b in 2008, down from the sh60.6b registered the previous year.

“Fish export earnings are expected to drop further this year if the Government does not address unlimited access to the lakes especially Lake Victoria,” Katiti Matovu, the head of the Uganda Fish Processors and Exporters Association, warned.

“Lakes Kyoga and Albert have already been over fished.

“This has forced the fishermen to shift to Lake Victoria, which is also being over fished,” Matovu noted in an interview on Wednesday in Kampala.
Lake Kyoga alone is a direct source of livelihood for over 2,700 people in the surrounding community.

She explained that fish stocks had improved between 2003 and 2006 due to the ban imposed by the European Union over the use of poison for fishing.
“The time spent during the ban allowed the fish to grow.

“But after that period, there has been over fishing that is depleting fish in the lakes,” Matovu remarked.

She, however, said the processors and exporters were optimistic that the Government would fast-track the registration and licensing of fishermen on the lakes.

“We have started seeing the fisheries department planning to register and licence all fishermen so that there will be no more fishermen in any of the lakes apart from those who are already fishing,” Matovu said.

“We have also been informed that those licensed but are found with illegal gears, will have their licences revoked.
“We are eagerly waiting for this law,” Matovu added.

She said even if the Fisheries Act of 1964 is enforced, the penalties were not punitive enough to stop the vice.
The fishing industry is Uganda’s second foreign exchange earner but poor fishing methods and overfishing are pushing it to the dogs.

With 18% of its surface area covered by lakes and rivers and a favourable climate, Uganda has the potential to produce about 430,000 metric tonnes of fish annually.

Nile Perch exports to the international markets, which were at 36,000 tonnes in 2005, dropped to 33,000 tonnes in 2006.

Only 53 fish species are available in lakes Victoria, Kyoga and Albert, down from over 300 in the past. Research statistics have found alarming decline in fish species in Lake Victoria alone.

Over fishing wrecks export earnings

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