By Julius Luwemba
In a bid to contribute to food security for the population in Uganda and East Africa, GIZ, a Germany corporation has stepped up efforts to encourage consumption of native fish by locals in Uganda.
Led by Adolf Gerste, the project leader, GIZ organised the fourth edition of the fish festival at Kingfisher grounds in Jinja, as a way of mobilising Ugandans to appreciate more of the native fish as well as understand the proper fishing and preservation methods.
“So far, more than 50% of the Nile Perch is consumed within the country, which is very important because we cannot sell our fish outside and then our people starve,” Gerste remarked during the festival which was held on the weekend.
Several entities and stakeholders in the fishing sector exhibited different fish species, serving all attendees at a very cheap price as singer Joseph Mayanja aka Jose Chameleon thrilled whoever was in attendance.
Felix Gonzaga, the executive secretary for Lake Kyoga integrated management organisation which was formed in 2004 by ten local governments also working in conjunction with the ministry of water and environment, the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries and the ministry of local government said, the more sustainable management of fisheries is by working with local communities.
“To manage the lake, we need to manage the people operating on, and around it. We should also create alternatives for fish production by establishing fish ponds,” Gonzaga observed, adding that many people across a spectrum of landing sites are willing to change to better fishing and preservation methods.
Winnie Nkalubo, the director national fisheries resources research institute, which is mandated to conduct fisheries research in Uganda, said many young people do not have knowledge of different types of fish in Uganda.
She also noted that the sector is facing challenges of over-fishing, which she said, will most likely lead to depletion of some species of fish.
“So, we are offering some unique species which people can venture into. We also wish to minimise the competition for silverfish as being consumed by humans and yet a delicacy to the animals as well.
We are, therefore, making research on alternative sources of protein other than the silverfish, that can be given to animals so that the silverfish is reserved for humans,” Nkalubo stated.
Luigina Blaich, the head of rural economic development programme under GIZ said, capacity building of fishermen will ensure sustainable fishing methods on Uganda’s water bodies.
However, Violet Namuddu, a field officer and also a fishmonger, complained about the instant changes in the size of boats and fish nets allowed on the water bodies.
“Authorities keep changing requirements in terms of the size of the boats and nets allowed to carry out fishing activities. This affects us, as we always have to adjust, which often turns out to be expensive,” she expressed.
Daisy Acero, the assistant commissioner in charge of fisheries enforcement under MAAIF said, the ministry is still challenged by rampant illegal fishing and also fishing in the breeding areas, especially on Lake Victoria and Lake Albert.
She, however, noted that there have been so many innovations around the utilisation and preservation of the available fish stock.