Thursday, November 20, 2014

World Fisheries Day 2014 for Lake Victoria: Some questions on the proposed Nile perch fishing ban

The Lake Victoria fishery has come under increasing pressure in the last two decades. Fish production peaked in the early 1990s and currently catches of most species are showing downward trends. Despite this, there is greater demand for fish of Lake Victoria, chiefly Nile perch (Lates niloticus) and ‘dagaa’ (Rastrineobola argentea), in the export market and for fishmeal respectively, as well as for domestic consumption.

The current proposal to implement a periodic ban on fishing of Nile Perch on Lake Victoria, raises certain fundamental questions that need to be confronted by Partner States:
  • What will happen to millions of people whose livelihoods depend on fish and related resource from Lake Victoria?
  • What will happen to the communities who rely on fish as the core part of their nutrition?
  • Before the ban is effected, how far will it incorporate the lessons from the current Lake Victoria Monitoring Control and Surveillance (MCS) efforts?
  • How will the proposed fishing ban be enforced to avoid pitfalls met in implementation of existing MCS measures?
  • What steps are in place to cultivate full support from Beach Management Units (BMUs), communities / fishers, local leadership and opinion leaders who are key to success of this intervention?
The East African Sustainability Watch is of the opinion that, unless properly executed the fishing ban will negatively affect the millions of poor community members living in the Lake Victoria basin and whose livelihoods depend either directly or indirectly on the fishing in Lake Victoria. For example, there is potential for the fishing ban to affect hundreds of fish processing plants around Lake Victoria and thousands of employees in the fish market chain. Ultimately, the nutrition of the millions of the community members around Lake Victoria who depend on Nile perch as a source of protein shall be affected, while the environmental situation stands to degenerate further as people search for alternatives, without guidance from relevant authorities across the Lake region.

Specifically, EA SusWatch Network urges the East African Community Partner states of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda to show commitment towards the conservation of fishery resources in Lake Victoria by addressing key salient issues:

1. EAC Partner States should lead the way in compliance: Partner States should without any further delay fulfil their financial obligation to ensure that the ‘Operation Save Nile Perch (OSNP)’ takes off.

2. Fast-track harmonisation of fisheries and fisheries resource management legislation: The EAC Partner States need to fast track the harmonisation of existing fisheries and fisheries resource management laws in order to pave way for smooth implementation of existing regional action policies and plans, for example the Regional Plan of Action for Management of Fishing Capacity on Lake Victoria, and the Strategy and Action Plan for Monitoring, Control and Surveillance of Fisheries on Lake Victoria

3. Facilitate Community compliance: There is an urgent need to facilitate the medium to long-term operations of Beach Management Units in view of their clear mandates as enshrined in the BMU legislations, as well as regularly involving them in planning, decision – making and regular interface with other actors related to fisheries and fisheries resources management in Lake Victoria (for example through the National Committee for Lake Victoria as directed by the LVFO Council of Ministers (Dar es Salaam, June 26, 1999).

4. Scale-up alternative livelihood opportunities: Individual and collective EAC interventions in the Lake Victoria should prioritise investment and support scale-up of tried and tested alternative livelihoods for communities. For example, support for successful aquaculture models, income generation activities through lending schemes and replicable conservation models like the LVEMPII Community Driven Development subprojects and from the Mount Elgon Region Ecosystem Conservation Programme (MERECP).

Read the full statement from here: