By Godfrey Ojore
President Yoweri Museveni has warned fishing communities against illegal fishing, saying the practice deprives the country of revenue.
The fisheries sub-sector contributes 4% to the national GDP. Fish is also the second largest export for Uganda, after coffee.
Museveni, in a speech read for him by Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja during the celebrations of the World Fisheries Day in Serere district on Friday, emphasised the need for people to venture into fish farming.
“Aquaculture is the world’s fastest-growing food production sector, increasing at a rate of 8% annually. Therefore, as a Government, our vision for the sub-sector is for it to be profitable, competitive and sustainable,” Museveni said.
He noted that the Government considers the fish sector an important one due to the revenue it collects.
“Embracing fish farming will reduce reliance on our lakes hence increasing household income, food security, employment and nutrition,” he added.
Serere district chairperson Stephen Ochola said the fishing sector contributes sh6.8b revenue to the district. He, therefore, appealed to the Government to make soft loans available for fishermen.
“The Government should consider subsidising the costs for the recommended boats and fish nets, as well as provide soft loans for our fishermen,” he said.
Currently, a recommended boat by the agriculture ministry costs sh1.7m, which is too high for local fishermen.
He appealed to the ministry to gazette more land for landing sites to make the lake accessible to more people.
In response, state minister for fisheries Hellen Adoa appealed to the district authorities to write to her ministry.
“Having many landing sites is not healthy for the lakes. However, send their request to my ministry so that we send a team to ascertain whether the area is suitable for more landing sites,” Adoa said.
Currently, Serere district has 26 gazetted landing sites and about 44 designated for gazetting through the agriculture ministry.
It is estimated that Uganda produces 570,000 metric tonnes of fish annually.
State minister for fisheries Hellen Adoa said the Government supports the development of fish farmers by establishing a national network of aquaculture co-operative societies with an apex body called the Uganda Aquaculture Co-operative Union (UACU).
The co-operative has more than 120 societies, with 4,150 members across the country. UACU is linked to the Parish Development Model because aquaculture enterprise groups formed in parishes will join the co-operative union to increase their bargaining power for more funding and other essential inputs.