The minister of agriculture, animal husbandry and fisheries, Hon Vincent Bamulanzeki Ssempija has applauded the United Nations Food Agricultural Organization (FAO) and other stakeholders for prioritizing the fisheries sub-sector and promoting relevant laws to ensure its sustainability.
He made these remarks while presiding over a validation workshop for the Fisheries And Aquaculture Bill 2018, at Collin hotel in Mukono.
While addressing participants, Sempijja who also doubles as the Kalungu West legislator observed that much as previous laws such as the Fish Act (1997) have played a key role in regulation of the sector, they are still not in tandem with the changing dynamics of this industry. As such, he says this long awaited bill will go a long way in addressing industrial bottlenecks
“While the Fish Act, Cap 197 provides for the control of fishing, fish conservation, purchase, sale, marketing and processing of fish, it is now outdated to address the current technological advancement and the changed fisheries sector”, he notes.
As such he says that once this bill is passed into law, it will not only go a long way in solving numerous industrial bottlenecks but also ensure the sustainability of a sector that accounts for 12% of Uganda’s Gross Domestic Product.
However, he called for the involvement of local communities if this law is to bear any fruits.
“I think this validation meeting will be able to look at that. We really need look at a way how the locals are involved in the management of this natural resource. As I have told you, this is a very important bill which apart from the consumers will directly affect almost a third of Ugandans”, Sempijja cautions.
Besides that, he added that government is working round the clock to fund a serious and competitive law regarding fish, particularly as a means of clamping down on any illegal activity.
On his part, Antonio Querido the FAO representative in Uganda noted FAO Representative in Uganda, Dr. Antonio Querido said that the proposed Bill will help to regulate developments in the fisheries and aquaculture sub-sectors, while fostering sustainable and nutritious food production in Uganda.
“The proposed law will also help to address post-harvest losses resulting from inadequate fish handling facilities and poor hygiene while also increasing availability of fish and fisheries products for marketing and consumption,” Querido notes.
However, Querido warned that if not appropriately regulated, the fisheries sector could turn disastrous in the long run.
“If not regulated, aquaculture can become a potential risk to the environment such as increased water pollution and loss of biodiversity. Unplanned aquaculture can also lead to competition among other resource users that can degenerate into conflicts”, he said.
Fisheries and aquaculture sub sector in figures
According to figures from the Food Agricultural Organization (FAO), the fisheries sub sector contributes 12 percent of agricultural GDP of Uganda and supplies 50 percent of animal proteins consumed in the country.
Besides that, the fisheries and aquaculture subsectors combined employ 1.2 million Ugandans and are projected to hit 530,000 and 300,000 metric tonne mark by 2020 respectively according to FAO statistics.
Despite the considerable success attained, the fisheries sector in Uganda has been largely dogged by illegal fishing and capture of immature fish which apparently have cost the country about USD 429million in income lost according to FAO statistics.
The validation workshop which was held on the backdrop of regional and country-wide consultations with relevant stakeholders was attended by Fred Bamwine the resident district commissioner Mukono district, Brigadier General Micheal Nyarwa the head of UPDF marine unit and officials from the ministry of agriculture.