Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya have launched an initiative dubbed Operation Save the Nile perch to increase the fish stock in Lake Victoria.
Representatives of the three countries launched the operation in Entebbe in an effort to save the fish — a delicacy in the region — from extinction as a result of overfishing.
Tanzania’s Minister for Livestock and Fisheries Luhaga Mpina, said the Council of Ministers for the Lake Victoria Fishing Organisation had approved a $1.8 million budget for the initiative, with each country contributing $600,000.
Joint studies to curb illegal fishing were carried out by the Tanzania Fishery Research Institute (TAFIRI), Kenya Marine Fishery Research Institute (KMFRI) and National Fishery Research Institute of Uganda ahead of the launch of the initiative.
Each country is expected to curb illegal fishing practices.
Research by the Tanzania Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries shows that there is an estimated one million tonnes of fish in Lake Victoria, mostly the Nile perch valued at between $300 and $500 million.
Current estimates show that in 2017, Tanzania harvested an estimated 300,000 tonnes of Nile perch, Kenya about 50,000 tonnes and Uganda 350,000 tonnes.
According to a report by the Ministry of Livestock in Tanzania, Nile perch fishing reduced from 1,065 tonnes per day to 171 tonnes per day, posing a threat to fish processing factories in Mwanza.
Illegal fishing affects young, immature fish. The livestock ministry report said that out of 101,573 tonnes of Nile perch harvested in 2015, only 8,337 tonnes contained matured fish, while the remaining quantity was made up of premature fish below 50 and 85 centimetres.