Four Ugandan fish processors are back in business following months of closure after government implemented stringent measures to control fishing including imposing a ban on harvesting immature fish.
The return of the firms — Gomba, Iftra, Marine and Agro and Ngege — is expected to add some 330,000 tonnes of fish and fish products to the local market and boost exports which have declined over the years.
Uganda exports fish to Europe, Australia, the Middle East, US, Egypt and Southeast Asia.
In 2017, Uganda exported 14,248 tonnes of fish valued at $136 million, but a year later, after implementing the stringent measures, the volumes rose to 20,364 tonnes valued at $153 million.
The measures include kicking out foreigners from its water bodies, registering fishing boats that have appropriate gear, implementing closed fishing in breeding areas to allow fingerlings to grow, and establishing aquaculture and cage fishing.
Uganda also deployed the military around its lakes in 2017 to guard against illegal fishing and shore up Nile perch stocks.
Commissioner of fisheries Joyce Ekwakut Nyeko, said the ban had helped to replenish the fish stocks.
The Finance Ministry attributed agriculture’s minimal growth in the 2018/2019 financial year from three per cent to 3.8 per cent to developments in the fishing sector.
“The volume of fish exports increased by 27 per cent. The fisheries enforcement interventions by the army has led to the opening of four fish factories,” said Finance Minister Matia Kasaija.
Uganda is also coming up with the Fisheries and Aquaculture Bill that will embed new fisheries enforcements into law. It will help to direct all illegal earnings to the national Treasury.
Uganda’s unregulated fish catch is estimated at $430 million annually.