Entebbe- Government has started working on measures that will see the country’s fish exports greatly increase to fetch $1billion (about Shs248 billion).
State Minister for Agriculture Zirubaberi Nyira Mijumbi said Uganda wants to contribute to increased social and economic development in the East and Central African region through fish trade and fisheries development.
“We want to tackle the whole value chain from impounding illegal fishing gear, post-harvest handling, border inspection to stop trade of immature fish across the region, among other interventions,” Prof Zirubaberi said last week after opening the 2nd trade event organised by the Indian Ocean Commission in conjunction with European Union and United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation.
Statistics from Uganda fish processors and exporters association show that Uganda exported 16,697 tonnes of fish in 2010 fetching about $86,016 (about Shs223 million), 16,478 tonnes in 2011 fetching $89,093 (about Shs231 million) while last year Uganda exported 18,255 tonnes of fish fetching $88,293 (about Shs229 million).
A fish trade expert at the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC), Chris Short said bad fishing practices must be eliminated if government is to achieve that goal.
“Not regulating fish trade, corruption, poor border inspection and trade in immature Nile perch must stop if government is to achieve the $ 1billion target,” he said.
Mr Paul Sseruyange, the European Union delegation representative said the European Union is going to offer EUR 16 million (about Shs54 billion) to help in implementing management and governance issues, monitoring control and surveillance through the ‘Smart fish programme’. “We trust that such innovations will maximise the contributions of fisheries to local and regional food security, access capacity to access regional markets with high quality products and provide people at all stages of the fish value chain with enhanced opportunities for a decent living,” he said.
He said particular concerns should be addressed regarding illegal trade which not only affects competitiveness of fishermen, processers and sellers but also undermines the resources leading to large amounts of unreported catches.
ABOUT THE SMART FISH PROGRAMME
The Smart Fish Programme aims at contributing to an increased level of social, economic and environmental development and deeper regional integration in the Eastern and Southern Africa and the Indian Oceanregion through improved capacities for the sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources.
The Programme is financed by the European Union under the 10th European Development Fund, with a total financial contribution of Euro 21 million for the first of two implementation phases.
The Programme is implemented by the Indian Ocean Commission in collaboration with the Common Market for East and Southern Africa, the East Africa Community and the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development.
Other regional institutions involved include the Southern African Development Community and regional fisheries management organisations, such as the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission the Southwest Indian Ocean Fisheries Commission, the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organisation, and the Lake Tanganyika Fisheries Organisation.