BY SAMUEL NABWIISO
The East African Community, Secretary General Amb. Liberat Mfumukeko has urged member states to allocate more resources towards the development of fish farming in the region as the only solution to mitigate the declining fish stocks in the water bodies in the community.
Mfumukeko noted that despite efforts by riparian countries around lake Victoria to sustainably manage fish resources especially, capture fisheries remained a big challenge with stocks of Nile Perch and Tilapia declining drastically.
“Aquaculture in East Africa has not developed its potential and the region accounts for only 7-8% of regional fish consumption. Overall demand for fish in the region is projected to rise substantially in the near future due to high population growth, increasing incomes and urbanization. Developing aquaculture to meet the increasing demand for fish in East Africa is therefore crucial,” said Amb. Mfumukeko.
The Ambassador made the remarks at consultative meeting with the head of European Union at the EAC Headquarters where they were launching a five year fish farming project titled European Union –East African Community True fish programme which targets EAC.
The five-year project will run from 2019 to 2024 with a budget of 10 million Euros from the European Development Fund.
The Head of Delegation of the European Union to EAC, H.E. Ambassador Roeland van de Geer reiterated the importance of fish farming among the EAC Countries saying the practice has the potential to support the EAC Member states in eradicating poverty as well as support sustainable development in the region:
“Not only will fish farming help improve regional nutrition and food security. It will also provide new sources of rural income and contribute to contain pressure on the wild resources of lake Victoria” he explained.
The EU-EAC TRUE-FISH Programme aims to tackle some of the key challenges as well as sustainability risks for the development of market-led, competitive and sustainable commercial aquaculture in the Lake Victoria basin.
Other objectives of the programme include; improving access to commercial networks for aquaculture-related businesses, to increase availability and quality of local skilled workers for the development of aquaculture-related businesses among others.
The Country Director of WorldFish Zambia and Tanzania, Mr Sloans Chimatiro saidt: “in the face of climate change, sustainable aquaculture practices offer water, energy and feed conversion efficiencies superior to any other domesticated animal food production system.”
The Executive Secretary of Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization ( LVFO) Mr. Godfrey V. Monor, said that catches and biomass of fish in the lake and in particular Nile Perch and tilapia have declined, stressing that this has been accompanied by a corresponding reduction in per capita fish consumption.
LVFO, a specialized Institution of EAC, coordinating the management and development of fisheries and aquaculture in the region, is spearheading this effort. LVFO has been instrumental in the development of the EAC Regional Strategy and Implementation Plan (2015–2020) for sustainable aquaculture development.