By Nicholas Nduati
NAIROBI, New regulations have been introduced for Lake Victoria fishery to protect fish stocks from depletion by Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, the three littoral nations of Africa’s largest lake.
Fishermen from the three countries wishing to fish in Lake Victoria will be subjected to new regulations aimed at curbing the recent decline in the lake’s fish stock, according to a joint communique released by Agriculture Ministers from the three countries.
There will be a centralized issuing of fishing licences by the end of March this year to limit fishing. The new regulations will also limit the processing capacity in order to protect the dwindling fish numbers, especially of the Nile Perch.
Stocks of the Nile Perch, one of the dominant fish varieties in Lake Victoria, have dropped significantly from 60 per cent in 1999 to 42 per cent in 2014, with illegal fishing activities to blame, the communique said.
With efforts to curb illegal fishing by the partner states so far not bearing much fruit, the three nations have agreed to develop an inventory of fishermen and actors along the fishery value chain as well as centralized issuing of fishing licences to be in place by March this year.
With cage culture where, fish is reared in metal cages inside the lake becoming widespread, partner states will also be required to map out areas for the practice and develop standard operating procedures in three months’ time.
In order to reduce over-reliance of fish from lakes, each member state will also be required to promote aquaculture.
It is however worth noting that the composition of Dagaa fish, that is Omena in Lake Victoria, has increased from 20 per cent in 1999 to 44 per cent in 2014 with a corresponding increase in consumption of the fish, hence the need for better handling and packaging of fishery resources.
The ministers met at the 9th Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization Secretariat over the weekend when they also admitted Burundi and Rwanda into the secretariat in line with East African Community (EAC) integration was agreed.