The rate at which the population of Nile Perch has declined in a year is worrying fishermen as they continue to park their boats due to low catches.
Nile Perch is the most in-demand fish species on both the local and international markets.
According to the National Fisheries Research Institute report, Nile Perch has decreased in Lake Victoria by 62% in one year mainly in Ugandan waters.
Its population has also fallen by 52% in Tanzania and by 42% in Kenya.
The findings were revealed by Adrian Kavuma, the Kalangala district senior fisheries officer, during a fishermen’s meeting that was held on Tuesday at Mugoye sub-county headquarters.
Kavuma said that the decrease in Nile Perch population is a result of the fish killed earlier this year which left mature fish that used to reproduce dead and floating in many parts of Lake Victoria. Each mature Nile Perch lays up to 4 million eggs a year.
The use of illegal fishing gear and overfishing from an increased number of fishermen on Lake Victoria are among the factors cited for the drastic decrease of mature Nile Perch.
“Despite the drop in Nile Perch, the biomass of young fish is pretty good. This accounts for 70%, however, if fishermen continue to overfish, they may also decrease,” Kavuma said.
He however condemned reports that fishermen that have been caught in suspected illegal fishing activities pay bribes to Fisheries Protection Unit (FPU) officers to escape penalties.
Eric Serian, the Kalangala FPU detachment commander, distanced his officers from the allegations.
“Those allegations from fishermen are not true. Those are their blackmailing techniques used to defend themselves. All the culprits caught are always paraded before the law under the Fisheries Act 2003 Cap 197 section 27,” said Serian.
Juliet Najuma Ssenkoole, the Kalangala District Resident Commissioner, appealed to the fishermen to join the fight against illegal fishing activities.
Fishermen have suggested different measures including a ban on all fishing activities for a certain period of time so as to allow for the fish to grow.
“Let FPU also fight markets where immature fish is sold and also enhance checkpoints for illegalities that are imported into different landing sites by some fishermen,” said Patrick Jjuko, one of the fishermen.
The decrease in stocks has led to the closure of eight out of the 20 fish processing factories, while fish exports have also declined.