By Godfrey Ojore
Celebrations to mark the International Fisheries Day this Friday are to be held in Serere district under the theme: Promoting Fish Farming for Improved Household Incomes, fisheries state minister Hellen Adoa has said.
The theme emphasizes increased production and consumption of fisheries products, which have contributed significantly to food security, nutrition, and immediate and long-term benefits to people’s incomes and the economy.
So, as the country prepares to celebrate Fisheries Day, Adoa has called on fishermen to desist from using illegal fishing gear as well as illegal boats.
She revealed that the fishing sector contributes 4% to the national GDP and is among the top exports for Uganda, including gold and coffee.
“Maybe because the use of illegal fishing gear contributed to the decline in the revenue we used to get as a country. We should stop the use of illegal fishing gear for the good of our country,” Adoa said during a media briefing on Tuesday in Soroti city.
She added that the Government has supported the establishment of the national network of Aquaculture Co-operative Societies with an apex body being the Uganda Aquaculture Co-operative Union (UACU).
Currently, UACU includes more than 120 societies with 4,150 fish farmers across the country.
“The government is putting priority efforts on the promotion of aquaculture, including providing critical quality inputs in the form of fingerlings and fish feeds as starter packages to hundreds of farmers countrywide,” Adoa said.
She added that the Government has also stimulated investment in private hatcheries by buying starter seeds for distribution to farmers across the country.
According to Adoa, Uganda produces 570,000 metric tonnes of fish annually.
“450,000 tonnes of fish, which come from lakes and rivers is worth shillings 1.9 trillion at landing value, while 120,000 tonnes, which is worth about sh800 billion shillings is from aquaculture,” Adoa said.
She said the Government is supporting ongoing research by NARO in improving the quality of fingerlings from indigenous tilapia and other fish species, as well as fish feed from local raw materials.
About the day
World Fisheries Day, celebrated on November 21, is dedicated to highlighting the critical importance of healthy water bodies and ensuring sustainable stocks of fisheries around the world.
The day, which is traced back to India on November 21, 1997, highlights the fact that fisheries are an important sector and provide employment to millions of people, as well as contributing to the food security of Uganda.
“The celebrations provide a forum for knowledge management, technology transfer, and use as well as innovations shared by actors in the fisheries and aquaculture value chains,” Adoa said.
Protecting the water
Assistant commissioner fisheries enforcement Daisy Olyel Aciro said the ministry is in the campaign to protect the water environment by rallying communities to protect breeding areas.
“We are also validating all of our breeding areas in all of our water bodies because we value this sector as the second largest foreign earner,” Aciro explained.
Usage of poison in fishing
According to Tom Bukenya, the commissioner of fisheries control, regulation, and quality assurance, they have managed to control the use of poison that fishermen used to use to catch fish in the past.
He explained that the practice threatened the country’s fish stock in the lakes and rivers.