The Ugandan government has been urged to encourage fishermen to take up fish farming as a way of reducing the amount of fish taken out of Lake Victoria and other water bodies.
Everest Mugambwa Kizito, an environmentalist, made the appeal in light of the mass deaths of fish in Lake Victoria earlier this year.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the deaths were caused by a phenomenon called upwelling, the movement of poorly oxygenated water from the bottom to the top which results in the suffocation of fish due to lack of oxygen.
Widespread illegal and excessive fishing are also said to be major reasons behind the decline of fish stocks in one of the world’s largest freshwater lakes.
“Fish farming must be emphasized. The fishermen must be told how to farm fish and not to depend only on the natural occurrence of the fish. What happens on the lake is the fisherman only needs fishing gear but if you teach them how to farm fish, then they will realize the benefits of keeping their own fish,” Kizito told CGTN.
Kizito said there are several ways farming can be done, especially with the evolution of technology and the availability of the necessary inputs to start such a venture.
“You have heard of fish caging where you put a cage in the lake and the purpose is to have the waters. Put your own fish, put your own feeds and feed the fish. You can go for ponds, you can go for a tank,” Kizito noted.
“Technology is changing. Today, you have Ugandans putting fish in specialized tanks. Water is put, the feeds are put and young fish are kept there.”
Kizito said engaging fishermen in fish farming will also give the fish ample space to replenish their numbers.
“It works. It is a natural occurrence such that if you give it a break, the fish will naturally reproduce and will naturally multiply. By nature, fish do not take long to mature.”
He, however, cautioned that adequate preparation needs to be done by the government before embarking on such a venture.
“Not letting them go and pick what is naturally occurring becomes increasingly difficult if you have not fed them. Government should devise means of feeding those that initially depended on fishing and those that initially depended on natural resources,” Kizito said.
“The enforcing hand should be mindful of the fact that many of those who are depleting the environment are doing it out of no choice but for survival.”