The Government has decried “use of illegal and destructive gears to catch immature fish” and announced that it will table the “Fisheries and Aquaculture Bill” before Parliament to streamline stakeholder involvement in fisheries management.
The Minister of State for Fisheries Hellen Adoa made the pronouncement on Wednesday at Uganda Media Center as she addressed reporters about World Fisheries Day celebrated every 21st of November.
“Uganda is endowed with rich natural fresh water resources. Almost 20% of her surface area is covered by fresh waters with various fish species and high potential for increased fisheries and aquaculture production. There are five major lakes and over 160 minor lakes, rivers, wetlands, water reservoirs, valley dams, ponds whose potential if well harnessed can generate over 1,000,000 metric tons of fish per annum.”
“There is however under performance in the capture fisheries attributed to limited regulation and enforcement of laws and guidelines which had led to continued use of illegal destructive gears that catch immature fish,” she said.
As a result, the Minister announced that her Ministry this month will table before Parliament, the Bill to streamline stakeholder involvement in fisheries management.
“Once enacted, will streamline stakeholder involvement in fisheries management and ensure sustainable fisheries and aquaculture,” said Minister Adoa.
According to the minister, fish production levels in the country are still low at 594,000 metric tons from capture fisheries and 120,000 metric tons from aquaculture.
Uganda however has a potential to provide 1,700,000 metric tons of fish with 1,000,000 metric tons from aquaculture and 700,000 metric tons from capture fisheries, she said.
Through National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO), Adoa said, her Ministry has registered success for its investment in developing fish value chain through research and development.
“If Uganda exported just a third of the projected annual potential at a price of $4.1 per kilo, it would add $2.1 billion per annum to the National Gross Domestic Product. This would be higher than all non-oil Uganda exports combined and would lead us to our vision of a modern, profitable and sustainable fisheries and aquaculture sub sector,” she said.
It should be noted that, due to illegal fishing characterised by catching of immature fish, President Museveni ordered the deployment of the army on major lakes to curb the vice.
However, fishermen on the lakes have many times accused UPDF of torturing them.
Last month, fishermen in Entebbe accused UPDF of torturing them, setting their fishing boats a blaze and in turn allow Chinese to do illegal fishing.
The UPDF however dismissed the allegations.