Illegal fishing methods and insufficient monitoring and enforcements of existing regulations have played their part in the decline of fish stocks for local consumption.
By Joel Ogwang
Illegal fishing methods and insufficient monitoring and enforcements of existing regulations have played their part in the decline of fish stocks for local consumption and export in not only Lake Victoria, but also lakes Albert and George.
Statistics from the Department of Fisheries Resources (DFR) in the fisheries ministry show that after increasing from 1,664 tonnes valued at $1.4m in 1990, to 36,615 tonnes valued at $143.6m in 2005, fish exports to overseas markets dropped to 16,480 tonnes, worth $89.1m by 2011.
This followed a two-fold growth in quantity from 15,876 tonnes, resulting into $34.4m in 2000, to 30,057 tonnes ($102.9m) in 2004, but dropped to 23,430 tonnes ($115.3m) in 2008 and 17,105 tonnes ($91.1m) by 2011.
In addition, informal regional trade in fish, which had increased from $38.4m in 2005, to a peak of $56.4m in 2007, decreased to $27.1m in 2011.
Informal fish exports also decreased drastically from 30,712 metric tonnes (Mt) in 2005 to 10,498Mt in 2010.
Returns from fish revenue also dropped from $38.4m to $27.1m between 2005 and 2011. Presently, Uganda deals in fish valued at $200m in exports.
Whilst the Government targets $1b from the fish industry come 2015, this will involve producing 1.3 billion metric tonnes; up from the current 660m. This is still a dream as even the $100m target in fish returns set by 2012 could not be realised.
Over 80% of Uganda’s fish for export comes from lakes Victoria, Kyoga, Albert and Edward, with the Nile Perch, Tilapia and Silver fish (mukenne) forming the mainstream of the industry.
Of the 660,000 tonnes of fish produced, 100,000 tonnes of the valuable Nile Perch are processed for export to EU markets, with 100,000-150,000 tonnes salted and dried or smoked for regional markets.
Fish exports on a steady decline