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Lake Victoria fish stocks up despite illegal fishing

By Vision Reporter

Added 7th November 2013 05:46 PM

Fish consumers in Uganda are smiling all the way to the dining table, following a fall in prices. However, fishermen and environmentalists are not sharing the same sentiment...

Fish consumers in Uganda are smiling all the way to the dining table, following a fall in prices. However, fishermen and environmentalists are not sharing the same sentiment...


By Carol Natukunda
Kenedy Oryema
Janat Namulindwa
Mosha Muyanja

Fish consumers in Uganda are smiling all the way to the dining table, following a fall in prices. However, fishermen and environmentalists are not sharing the same sentiment...

A young mother of three smiles broadly as she buys fish at Gaba landing site on Lake Victoria. She is excited that for the next couple of months, her family can afford to have fish on the menu. “The prices are down, ’  she sighs,  ‘My children love fish,  i love it too, it is very delicious.”

A kilogramme of Nile perch costs only sh7, 000, compared to sh13, 000 in October. That‘s almost half the price it cost a month ago. A medieum size Tilapia fish also costs about  sh25, 000, down from about sh35,000 months ago.
‘My family can now eat fish twice a week, which is nutritiuous, ’  another mother reveals, grinning.

(PHOTOS OF PEOPLE BUYING FISH, AND DISPLAY OF VARIOUS FISH.) (OFFICIAL GRAPHICS ON FISH STOCKS )

 ‘Nothing to smile about’

But it’s gloom for fishermen with young families to support. At Gaba landing site on Lake Victoria, most fishermen and dealers say the cheap prices that come with the seasonal boom affects livelihood.

Baker Wasswa, the vice chairman of the Beach Management Unit at Gaba noted that the laws of demand and supply automatically play out in business. (AUDIO FOR WASSWA)

“Fishing is seasonal, just like the ordinary farming. Fish is plenty during April and May as well as November and December. This means prices are low, which  is not good for fishermen who rely on fishing to support their families,” said Wasswa.
Simon Kibiranga, 37, a father of eight said fishing was an unpredictable source of income.

“This is not a business I am proud of. Today you can make profit and tomorrow you don’t depending on the fish stocks. My wife does not have a job, so my family is depending on me,” Kibiranga said.

On a good day, he could make a profit of sh20, 000 selling fish. But there are days when he is not lucky and he simply walks back home without any money.

“ When the prices are high, i am supposed to be making good money, but customers do not buy at all. ”
And yet, having been in the business for over 10 year, Kibiranga doesn’t seem like he is about to quit anytime soon. “Where do I go, if I quit? This is the only job I can find,” he said.

Mosquito nets for fishing   (VIDEO OF THE FISHING NETS)


But both consumers and dealers agree that illegal fishing is a constant threat to the industry.  Wasswa noted that some people are using crude methods of fishing, such as mosquito nets or hooks.

“These do not have the ability to sieve out very young fish. They grab everything. A good fishing net only catches the big mature fish,” Wasswa explains.

He appeals to the government to equip them with resources to monitor the lake. Gaba landing site has over 1,000 fishermen, but the lake seems to be open to everyone.

“There are days when you do not catch anything, because all there is are young fish which do not sell,” said Ronald Kasekende, a fisherman, whom New Vision found sorting up his fishing nets. 

Dirty, green waters

Pollution is another reason threatening the fish delicacy.

“All the sewage and contaminated water from the city center goes into the lake and it chases away the fish or affects their ability to lay eggs,“ says Wasswa.

The hygiene  around the lake also leaves a lot to be desired. A visit to the landing site found residents washing and bathing from the lake, while heaps of garbage were strewn all over the shores. The lake hyacinth is also choking the lake, turning its waters into green.  (PHOTOS OF THE HYACINTH AND GARBAGE AROUND THE LAKE)

Fishing holidays
  (AUDIO)
The fisheries state minister Ruth Nankabirwa [told New Vision on Wednesday] that the government plans to introduce fishing holidays, in a bid to enable the lake “to breathe” and increase on the fishing stocks.

“We are still discussing the matter with all the stakeholders in fishing sector because we have always encountered resistance from fishermen on such new policies.

She also revealed that some steps had been taken to curb illegal fishing.

“We have collaborated with Uganda Revenue Authority to strengthen security on boarder points to hinder the entry of illegal nets into the country.

The minister added that they were going to investigate and arrest all culprits involved in catching immature fish.

LINKS

“We are losing the Nile Perch‘
Uganda’s President Museveni endorses ban on fishing
Garbage chokes Lake Victoria
Fish is nutritious

Lake Victoria fish stocks up despite illegal fishing

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