Due to the decline of Nile Perch Fish in Lake Victoria, Government has announced a number of stringent measures that include expulsion of all small boats on lakes and deployment of the army at Uganda’s border points to curb exportation of immature fish.
The Minister of State for Fisheries, Hellen Adoa told reporters on Friday that the measures were decided in a meeting at the Directorate of Fisheries Resources which was attended by the Uganda Fish Processors and Exporters Association (UFEPA), Association of Fishers and Lake Users (AFALU), Commander Fisheries Protection Unit (FPU) and fisheries technical Staff.
Adoa said that during the period November 2015 to February 2017, there was a sharp increase in fishing illegalities leading to decline of fish catches.
“The supply of fish to the factories declined from 29,544 tons in 2015 to 19,447 in 2016,” she said.
She, however, noted that since the deployment of FPU as directed by President Museveni, and continued self monitoring initiative by UFEPA, there was noticeble recovery of Nile Perch stocks in the lake which led to reopening of factories that had closed.
Nile Perch catches increased in 2017 to 23,141 tons, then 41,324 in 2018, and 57,409 tons in 2019.
Due to the calamities witnessed in 2020 (COVID-19 pandemic and flooding), the Minister pointed out, the catches again decreased, leading to decline of fish going to factories to 30,465.6 tons in 2020 and by June 2021, the factories were only able to access 8,000 tons.
“This drastic decline is threatening the closure of all the factories since they are now operating at less than 10% installed capacity,” Minister Adoa said.
Full List of Measures Taken
All small boats below 28ft to leave the lake immediately.
All “mukene” fishers to use nets of mesh size 10mm and above, and a maximum of 7 panels of 2×100 metres with a maximum of 4 lights.
All Nile Perch fishers must use gillnets of a maximum of 3 panels (78 meshes and 90 meters).
All individuals dealing in fish maw trade must obtain it from designated points (fish factories and landing sites).
For fish left for domestic consumption, at the landing site, and is destined for local market, all Nile Perch must be gutted only at designated points within the landing site by a licensed person, and fish maws extracted should be sold only to registered approved facilities.
Individuals with fish maw licenses for trading and processing, must not engage in fish gutting at landing sites.
All fish leaving the landing site must be accompanied with a fish movement permit indicating a landing site of origin, the quantity and destination processing facility.
All fish smoking must be done at the landing site within a designated area by licensed artisanal fish processors.
Fish Protection Unit (FPU) to deploy at all border points to check on entry of illegal gears and exit of immature fish.
All fish on transit should be checked at the border point by the fisheries inspectors and Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) should not seal the containers before they are inspected.
“Failure to follow the above guidelines, the Minister in charge of fisheries will have no option but to close the lake for 3 months starting in December 2021,” said Minister Adoa.