Uganda is set to start direct exportation of fish maws to China, the State Minister for Fisheries, Ms Hellen Adoa, has revealed.
"We expect to start exporting fish maw directly to China in February this year after the two countries have signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). Our estimated annual export will be 520 Metric Tonne (Mt) of fish maw and about 36000Mt of Nile Perch headless gutted," she said, during the meeting with fish maw processors and traders at the Directorate of Fisheries in Entebbe on Wednesday.
The minister warned that those who fail to meet minimum requirements for processing of fish maw, will see their companies closed.
"As the new minister, I am not going to be soft to anyone, and those that don't meet our standards, will have their factories closed," Ms Adoa said.
She also advised those that deal in black markets of fish maw to stop immediately or else they will be arrested and made to face the law.
Uganda produces up to 447,020Mt of fish from capture fisheries and aquaculture. Nile perch contributes about 86,463Mt of total production, tilapia 49,768Mt, small pelagic 260,460Mt while other fish species contribute 50,800Mt.
Currently, Nile perch is the most valuable fish species as the maw from a 70kg Nile perch can fetch about Shs1.5m which is far more costly compared to the fish itself that goes for about Shs700,000.
A kilogram of maw in the international market goes for US$1,000 (Shs3.7m) depending on strength of market and product quality.
Mr Sujal Goswami, the chairman of Uganda Fish Processors and Exporters Association said dealing with China will increase on the productivity of fish maw since they will be exported directly. He also welcomed the move to set up minimum requirements for processing of fish maw, saying it will help to increase on the quality of fish maw exported, thus dominating the market.
Minimum requirements for processing fish maw
Fish maw products shall be packaged in new packages that meet the international hygienic standards and labels should comply with the requirements of per-packaged labels. Labels shall be in English and Chinese as per Article 7 of protocol.
No fish maw processing establishment shall use additives.
All fish maw from markets and fish processing establishments shall have a fish maw inspection certificate among others.
Guidelines for licensing of fish maw processors and traders 2020
Submit an application for processing fish maws with the following information and attachments
Establishment of approval number
The fish maw establishment shall belong to a recognised association and registered (legal)
A letter of recommendation from recognised association of fish processors.
A previous year's license for fish maw processing or approval from chief fisheries officer for new applicants among others.
Fish maw traders
Submit an application for trading in fish maw with the following information and attachments.
Names, contact details of the applicant and source of fish maws.
A letter of recommendation from a recognized association of fish maw traders.
A License for the previous two years allowing you to trade in fish maws or proof of payment for arrears