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The East African : Oct 20th 2014
42 TIME TO TAKE CONTROL Tanzania lobbies Kenya, Uganda to impose ban on fishing of Nile perch The count≥y a≥gues that the six-month ban would help ≥eplenish the dwindling stocks of the species in Lake Victo≥ia By ERICK KABENDERA The East African six-month ban on fishing of Nile perch in Lake Victoria in a bid to help replenish the stock. Tanzania intends to ban Nile T perch fishing on its side of the lake for six months each year, a move that would leave its 200,000 fishermen without a livelihood for half the year and put $325 million in export earnings at risk. The Minister of Livestock De- velopment and Fisheries, Dr Titus Kamani, said the government had made a considered decision to impose the ban. The proposal that the other two countries join in was to have been discussed at a meeting of EAC ministers for fishing in Kampala last week. However, it is understood that this did not happen. “When we tell people that they anzania is lobbying Kenya and Uganda to support an annual should stop using illegal fishing gear and stop juvenile fishing, they don’t understand; we don’t have any other choice at the moment,” Dr Kamani told The EastAfrican. Dr Kamani said Nile perch stocks at the lake were badly depleted and the government was consulting other countries with a view to seeking their participation. “I can’t tell you when the ban will start because we need to seek approval from EAC member states and see if they can also take similar decision. My colleagues are at the moment in Uganda to discuss the matter. I will give a position when they return and brief me,” said Dr. Kamani. However, the executive secretary of the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organisation (LVFO), Godfrey Monor, said Tanzania had not informed them about the decision. “We had a delegation from Tan- zania including the permanent secretary here yesterday (Wednesday The EastAfrican BUSINESS OCTOBER 18-24,2014 Illegal fishing on Lake Victoria threatens the Nile perch species. Picture: File October 15) in Kampala to attend the special council on cage culture but they did not talk about it,” Mr Monor said. Mr Monor said the priority for the partner states should be to strengthen patrolling of the lake and cracking down on illegal fishing gear. “Each country is entitled to its own decision but we need to agree on the best way to impose a ban jointly, because we share one ecosystem and fisherman from one country cross over to the others’ waters,” he added. The EU head of delegation to Tanzania and the East Africa Community, Filiberto Ceriani Sebregondi, said the ban would reduce earnings from Nile Perch sales to the EU market. Tanzania’s proposal is that the ban be effected for three years but there are fears this could force EU traders to look for alternative yearround markets. “The ban will lead to the reduc- tion in national revenue generated from Nile Perch exports and a possible shift of EU demand for Nile Perch products to aquaculture products,” Mr Sebregondi said. Mr Sebregondi said the decision could also force hundreds of fish processing plants around the lake to review their businesses and affect the nutrition of thousands of residents who depend on the Nile perch as a source of protein. The EU is the largest market for Nile perch from East Africa. In Species on the b≥ink of extinction as EAC fails to cont≥ol By ADAM IHUCHA Special Correspondent TANZANIA, KENYA and Uganda, the three countries that share Lake Victoria, have frustrated a regional initiative to save Nile perch in the world’s second largest freshwater body. The EAC Council of Ministers in 2009 launched a $1.8 million drive dubbed Operation Save the Nile Perch (OSNP) to recover the species’ population, which has been depleted from 1.2 million tonnes in the early 2000s to a mere 3,000 tonnes today. The Nile perch, or Lates niloticus, as it is known scientifically, is a large freshwater fish introduced into Lake Victoria in 1954 by the British colonial governments to increase the fish population. Under the OSNP, the three states commit- ted to contribute $600,000 each annually for the operation targeting illegal fishing. But, five years down the line, the EAC Council of Ministers’ report indicates that Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania have been dragging their feet over payment of their annual fees, rendering the mission a nonstarter. “In November 2013, the Council reiterated its directive to Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda to fulfil their pledges towards the OSNP programme. However, no funding has been received,” reads the report of the just ended Council of Minister’s meeting. Kenya remitted $570,907, equivalent to 95 per cent in the year 2010/11. Uganda paid $440,160 whereas Tanzania remitted just $185,013. A Tanzanian official attributed the failure to honour the pledge to a budget deficit. The trade in undersized fish has continued unabated since there is little law enforcement to control illegal fishing on the lake. The August 2010 framework survey con- ducted by Lake Victoria Fisheries Organisation (LVFO) around Lake Victoria’s beaches and funded by the Lake Victoria Environmental Management Programme (LVEMP II) revealed that fish-breeding grounds have been extensively destroyed. This has negatively affected fish species with the Nile perch being the hardest hit. Use of illegal fishing gear like gillnets, monofilaments and beach seines is on the rise. During the 1980s and early 1990s, before the introduction of fish processing plants in lake zone regions, Nile perch was virtually valueless and favoured mainly by families that could not afford more expensive fish like tilapia. But between 1992 and 2004, the status of the Nile perch rose dramatically due to demand from European countries, thanks to findings by scientists that the fish has Omega-3 fatty acids that help to check heart problems and high blood pressure. Today, nearly 22 years later, the situa- tion is alarming following a sharp decline in Nile perch stocks in Lake Victoria caused by, among other factors, overfishing. $600,000 up to 20 tonnes of Nile perch. There were hundreds of these kinds of boats, which collected fish from small-scale fishermen.” He said that at the time, fishing of imma- ture Nile perch was minimal because there were plenty of mature fish weighing between three and 200 kilogrammes. Fish that can be caught using legal nets Amount of money Kenya Tanzania and Uganda are supposed to contribute to OSNP As the demand for Nile perch soared in Eu- rope, so did the number of boats and fishing nets on the lake. From beach seines to smallsize fishing nets that catch immature fish, nobody cared — it was survival of the fittest. Nestory Kulinda, 61, a fisherman from Kagera region, says the problem started in 1995 — two years after the first fish-processing factory was opened in Mwanza — followed by more plants in Kagera and Mara regions. “The fish processors started to buy Nile perch in bulk at very attractive prices. Fish agents built huge boats that could carry are those measuring between 50cm and 85cm long while those measuring above 85cm are not harvested because they are considered parent stock. Fish weighing under a kilogramme is considered immature. The Nile perch is of great commercial significance: Inland fisheries contribute between 2 and 12 per cent of the GDP in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. The value of the catch from Lake Victoria is around $350 million at landing sites, with a further $250 million generated as foreign exchange by the export of Nile perch, LVFO data indicates. Fishing on the lake supports the liveli- hoods of over 30 million people in directly dependent households by providing employment and income. The fish also provides protein for consumers in the region.
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