What you need to know:
- The fishermen attribute the rise in prices to the UPDF operation against bad fishing practices.
- The soldiers were deployed to fight the then rampant illegal fishing on the orders of President Museveni about two years ago and fishermen say this has seen many illegal fish dealers quit the market.
NAMUTUMBA. Fishermen at Bwongha Landing Site in Malongo Sub-county, Mayuge District, have every reason to smile following the recent rise in the fish prices.
Mr Sharif Mpiya, a fisherman at the landing site, says a kilogramme of Nile Perch now goes for Shs9,000, up from Shs7,000, while that of Tilapia is now sold at Shs8,000, up from Shs6,000.
Mr Bernard Waiswa, another fisherman, said the Nile Perch at Lubango and Dolwe landing sites in Namayingo District currently goes for Shs11,000.
The fishermen attribute the rise in prices to the UPDF operation against bad fishing practices. The soldiers were deployed to fight the then rampant illegal fishing on the orders of President Museveni about two years ago and fishermen say this has seen many illegal fish dealers quit the market.
“We used to have more than 7,000 fishermen who took on fishing as a full-time job but right now, we are having less than 100 fishermen left yet the demand for the fish is very high, prompting the few to increase the (fish) prices,” Mr Waiswa says.
“There would be no reason for the prices of fish to go high, but the fact is that fish is not only scarce in the lakes but also at the purchasing centres,” he adds.
The assistant fisheries inspector at Bwondha Landing Site, Mr Elliot Nanamba, says the fish prices are good for the country. Mr Nanamba lauds the UPDF for restoring sanity on the lake.
“Had it not been for the UPDF, the prices of fish would not be soaring,’’ he says.
In February last year, the UPDF carried out raids on several islands in Mayuge and Namayingo districts in which more than 500 illegal nets were burnt.
Ms Isa Mugumba, a fish dealer, says there is increased demand on the national market yet fish is scarce.
“I used to load about 15,000kgs of fish in two days but now I spend more than a week at landing sites looking for the same quantity of fish but it is still nowhere to be seen,” Mr Mugumba says, adding that if the UPDF operation remains for two more years, a kilogramme of fish will be sold at Shs15,000.
However, Mr Peter Makumbi, another buyer, says fish prices on landing sites in Busoga vary according to distance.
“We purchase ice from Kampala for preserving fish unlike in the past where we used to get the ice at the landing sites. This is also making the fish prices go up,’’ Mr Makumbi says.
Mr Moses Nalugonda, the fisheries inspector at landing site, says they are doing their best to ensure that fish prices rise for the betterment of the people.
Mr Nalugonda notes that the landing site, being around a forested area, fishermen used to hide and go fishing using bad gear and boats.
He says efforts are underway to set uniform fish prices across landing sites in Busoga Sub-region and that fishermen are being encouraged to get fishing permits.
“Our efforts as the fisheries office is to see that all fishermen have valid licences and fishing permits for easy monitoring, especially those catching premature fish,’’ he explains.
He adds that they are also faced with the challenge of fish buyers not paying dues imposed on each kilogramme of fresh and smoked fish.
The sub-county chairperson, Mr Moses Lubanga, say he is aware of the increase in fish prices but appealed to residents to adjust to them, arguing that it is for their own good.
Lake Victoria is the second largest freshwater lake in the world and is threatened by pollution from Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. Scientists from Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania recently conducted a 30-day fish stock monitoring survey in Lake Victoria which shows that the quantity of Nile perch has gone up.
However, the survey shows that the size of Nile Perch has remained small, less than the minimum size of 50 centimetres permitted by law.
Fishermen say the army operation against illegal fishing has seen many illegal fish dealers quit the market.