Uganda: Lockdown, Floods Disrupt Fisheries Sector

Garissa residents wade through floods after the River Tana burst its banks following days of torrential rain.

The commissioner of aquaculture at the Agriculture ministry, Ms Joyce Ikwaput Nyeko, has said the lockdown, floods, and the rising water levels are greatly affecting the fisheries sector.

She said besides the significant destruction on fisheries infrastructure, the sector is already battling with low demand for fish in both local and international markets.

"The volume of fish being exported has gone down. The restrictions on transport have also affected delivery of fish to local customers," Ms Nyeko said yesterday in an interview with Daily Monitor.

He said with the lockdown, fish processing factories decided to reduce the rate of processing because they had to cut off some workers to meet government directives such as social distancing.

"Even local consumption has gone down because many people are unable to go a long distance to buy fish. The problem is that fish is a perishable product that cannot be kept long when not put in ice and yet most of the dealers cannot access ice," she added.

Ms Nyeko said the suspension of public transport has also affected the supply chain.

"Not everybody lives by the lake shore so they had been travelling to go and work. Without means of transport, some people are not able to move, especially fish processors and gear menders," she said.

The commissioner said the onset of floods has further destroyed the facilities that government had established.

"Boats are finding it hard to land as most of the landing sites have been submerged. Some of the landing sites are also cut off such as those in Buikwe and Morlem," she said.

Ms Nyeko said the heavy rain being experienced across the country has also affected those who smoke the fish.

Fisheries Research Institute reacts

However, Dr Winnie Nkalubo, the director of National Fisheries Resources Research Institute (Nafirri), said: "The floods are not good for humans but for fish it is an extra habitat to breed. With the rising sea level, the fish population will flourish."

Dr Nkalubo said the overlapping water may cause the crossover of some big fish species such as Nile Perch to water bodies with small fish species.

She said this would disrupt the population of fish in other water bodies. Nile Perch predates small fish and has potential to disrupt fisheries.

"However, we have satellite lakes which are separated with papyrus but with flooding, the fish may cross over from one lake to another with particular fish species. We have had experience of Nile perch crossing from one water body to another and it is not a good experience," Dr Nkalubo said.

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