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Abandon Fish Farms A Big Threat To Environment

by Jacquiline Nakandi
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By Carol Kasujja Adii

Fisheries is an important sector of food production in Uganda since it provides nutritional security, and livelihood support and offers gainful employment to thousands of people around the country.

Researchers at Makerere University have, however, warned about a disaster likely to befall the sector of fish farmers who fail to seek knowledge about the environment before they start digging ponds.

“So many farms are established and are left abandoned, because of lack of technical support, knowledge, and lack of feeds. 

In our research we found out that abandoned farms become homes for wild fish that is going to produce all types of waste that could be a hindrance to the ability to perform other eco-services,” says Dr Ronald Semyalo, a lecturer in the Department of Zoology Entomology and Fisheries, School of Biological Sciences, Makerere University.

Semyalo reported on Thursday during the launch of the Environmental Impacts of Aquaculture: A Survey Report of Fish Farms in the Lake Victoria Basin.

The event at Coline Hotel in Mukono attracted different people including fish farmers from the Eastern region.

According to Dr Semyalo abandoned farms also hinder the environment from being used for other activities because there are ponds that were dug and the land cannot be used for anything else.

“It’s not a matter of having an idea or resources to start the business, you need to understand the right laws”, he implored stakeholders in fish farming.

Dr Semyalo called upon farmers to get the right technical support from the beginning otherwise they will end up establishing ponds in permanent wetlands or in an area that is prone to flooding.

“Continuously run environmental assessments, the environment is always changing. Otherwise, you will be the first loser and you will end up abandoning the pond,” Dr Semyalo said.

In a separate interview Jerome Ssebaduka, a natural resources manager for soils and land uses at the National Environmental Management Authority, noted that most of the fish farmers in the country are operating without approvals from the environmental body.

“Fish farmers seem not to know the process and procedures that guide them. Most of them are working unguided and the local government is reluctant to guide the process for anybody doing this commercially,” Ssebaduka said.

Ssebaduka called those who have so many cages without NEMA certificates to make sure that they get them.

“Compliance processes help you improve your efficiency and profitability. We can monitor what you are doing and provide guidance and advice on how best you can do whatever you are doing, it comes as a disadvantage but in the long run, it is advantageous,” he explained.

He reminded fish farmers that whereas NEMA no longer issues permits in wetlands, the institution offers assistance to operations in an open water area.

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