Uganda's fish exports for 2013 total 18,558.07 tonnes worth about 273M shillings, compared to 20,562 tonnes worth about 277M shillings in 2012, according to government statistics; decline attributed to poor fishing methods and landing practices

ENTEBBE, Uganda , April 19, 2014 () – There are increasing worries among fisheries' stakeholders about the future of Uganda's fish industry, following statistics showing exports in 2013 went down, compared to 2012.

According to the figures from the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and fisheries, Uganda exported 18,558.07 tonnes of fish in 2013 worth $113,933.23 (about Shs273 million), lower than 20,562 tonnes worth $115,508.71 (about Shs277 million) exported in 2012. The figures were, however, slightly higher than 17,332 tonnes worth $91447 (about Shs219 million) Uganda exported in 2011.

"The decline has been attributed to poor fishing methods and poor land practices along the lake shores," according to Mr Henry Nabongo, a senior Fisheries inspector and Deputy Spokesperson of the Fisheries department, Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries.

Illegal fishing practicesHe said there is an influx of illegal fishing nets like beach seines and monofilament on the market yet monitoring has not been so effective.The inspector, however, said border fish instructors have been deployed to monitor regional fish exports and continue regular operations on illicit dealers as they await the Agriculture Enforcement police that is yet to be put in place.

The executive director Uganda Fisheries and Fish Conservation Association, Mr Seremos Kamuturaki, said the drop in fish export figures was not surprising given the current trends of the fisheries sector.

"The sector is characterised by weak enforcement of the regulations on Uganda's water bodies because more people are targeting the stock," he said.

Mr Kamuturaki added that the open access policy to the lake is adversely affecting the sector, and called for licensing of fishermen as a way of controlling fishing on lakes.

Mr Kamuturaki said that there was need to carry out scientific studies of how many fishermen and how much they can take from the Uganda's lakes, in order to guard the water bodies from reckless fishing.

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