16 July 2013

Uganda: Fish Farming Can Ease Strain On Lakes

Kampala — Critics are wondering why the government allocated Ush 9.2 billion (about $3.5 million) to the agriculture ministry to strengthen the Fisheries Department instead of expanding aquaculture (fish farming) development in the country.

Hakim Baliraine the Chairperson of Eastern and Southern Africa Small scale Farmer Forum( ESAFF) told the East African Business Week although the country needs to protect its fisheries, more enforcement may not solve the problems like overfishing.

He said because the country's population is growing at high rate, there is need to diversify fishing grounds instead of over depending on fresh water bodies like Lake Vitoria and others.

"Government need to support the development of aquaculture in the country this will reduce pressure on the water bodies but this business of emphasizing on Enforcing fish law," he said.

"This is the only solution may not help because Government have many challenges when it comes to enforcing fish laws in the country," he added.

Among the challenges which hinder the government from enforcing fish laws include corruption among the government officials and poor facilitation of the legal enforcers like the beach management units.

But Baliraine said if the government supports aquiculture this will change people's attitudes towards sustainable harvesting of water resources like fish.

" One of the reason why there's illegal fishing on the lakes is that people consider the lake to be Government property but if we encourage them to farm their own fish this will change their mind set of proper harvesting the government will not experience such challenge on private fishing ponds " he said.

He said Ugandans have the capacity to engage in fish farming provided their equipped with skills on how to manage fish farming business.

Baliraine pointed out the challenge why fish farming is not developing he attributed the problem to the government's decision of leaving everything concerning agriculture extension services to National Agriculture Advisory Services (NAADs) despite the fact that the government under the Ministry of Agriculture have whole Department for fisheries.

Baliraine said fish farmers who have tried practicing aquaculture are not progressing, because they lack fish farming skills which could have been provided by the extension aquaculture services providers

The performance of the subsector in the last six months (July to December 2012) has been tremendous with overall improvement and recovery of the fish stocks. Fish production in the period under review was302, 000 metric tons and fish export stood at 9,000 tonnes valued at $57.1 million. The recovery of the fish stocks was as a result strong enforcement conducted on all lakes.

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