Stocks of Nile Perch and Tilapia around Lake Victoria have declined drastically, East African Community Secretary general has noted.
EAC SG, Liberat Mfumukeko has said that that despite efforts by riparian countries around Lake Victoria, measures to sustainably manage capture fisheries remained a big challenge.
“Notably, aquaculture in East Africa has not developed its potential and accounts for only 7-8 per cent of regional fish consumption. Overall demand for fish in the region is projected to rise substantially in the near future due to high growth, increasing incomes and urbanization. Developing aquaculture to meet the increasing demand for fish in East Africa is therefore crucial,” said Amb. Mfumukeko.
In report that was released by the Africa Journal of Aquatic Science 2016, statistics show that in the year 1999, Lake Victoria, the largest lake in Africa, had a production capacity of 1.6 million tonnes of Nile perch, but in 2016 it only had 803,000tonnes.
This has pushed the EAC secretariat to formulate a five year plan from 2019 to 2024 with a budget of 10 million Euros from the European Development Fund. According to the Secretary General, this was a component of the 85 million Euros committed to EAC projects in agriculture, infrastructure, investment and private sector development by the EU.
Addressing the media, the Head of Delegation of the European Union to Tanzania and the EAC, H.E. Ambassador Roeland van de Geer reiterated the importance of fish farming having the potential to be a key driver for poverty eradication and sustainable development in the region: “Not only will fish farming help improve regional nutrition and food security. It will also provide new sources of rural income and contribute to contain pressure on the wild resources of the Lake Victoria”. He further stressed that the EU-EAC TRUE-FISH programme aims to tackle some of the key challenges as well as sustainability risks for the development of market-led, competitive and sustainable commercial aquaculture in the Lake Victoria basin.
Speaking at the same forum, the Country Director of WorldFish for Zambia and Tanzania, Mr Sloans Chimatiro, indicated that: “in the face of climate change, sustainable aquaculture practices offer water, energy and feed conversion efficiencies superior to any other domesticated animal food production system”.
The Executive Secretary of Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization (LVFO), Mr. Godfrey V. Monor, said that catches and biomass of fish in the lake and in particular Nile perch and Nile tilapia have declined and stressed that this has been accompanied by a corresponding reduction in per capita fish consumption. Consequently, he continued, “EAC Partner States are making efforts to put in place mechanisms to increase fish production through aquaculture. The LVFO, a specialized Institution of the EAC, coordinating the management and development of fisheries and aquaculture in the region, is spearheading this effort. LVFO has been instrumental in the development of the EAC Regional Strategy and Implementation Plan (2015–2020) for sustainable aquaculture and other documents providing inter alia for the establishment of harmonised legal frameworks. As well, it has been instrumental for the formulation of the EU-EAC TRUE-FISH Programme”.
The FAO Representative in Tanzania, Mr Fred Kafeero, stated that FAO has a long history in East Africa, particularly in fisheries and aquaculture on the Great Lakes.
“Through its Sub-Committee for the Management of Lake Victoria, the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization was established and inaugurated. As such the link between FAO and LVFO is a lasting one. Likewise FAO has strong links with WorldFish and has benefited from a long-standing relationship with the EU not only in fisheries and aquaculture, but in all aspects of food and agriculture-related aspects in rural development and beyond. All the right elements are there for a successful programme” he added.