Scientists want new Bill to protect small fish species

Hoima district Chairman, Mr Kadiri Kirungi (in-blue-suit) and a UPDF Fisheries Protection Unit officer displaying some of the rescued fishing materials from DR Congo in September 2020 at Kaiso landing site. PHOTO/FILE/ALEX TUMUHIMBISE 

What you need to know:

  • The scientists want this to be captured in the Fisheries and Aquaculture Bill, 2021, that is under scrutiny.

Scientists from the Makerere University College of Natural Sciences have tasked Parliament to consider legislation, which will protect the small species in the major lakes and other water bodies across the country. 

The scientists want this to be captured in the Fisheries and Aquaculture Bill, 2021, that is under scrutiny.
 The lecturers, who were appearing before Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries on Monday, expressed their displeasure towards the proponents of the Bill for sidelining the small species and instead placing focus on major species such as Nile Perch and Tilapia, which fetch heavy revenue mostly from foreign markets.

In defence of his proposal, Mr Jackson Efitre, a lecturer from at the Department of Zoology, reasoned that the small species which, among others, includes fish best known as mukene, muziri and ragooge, constitute at least 50 percent of the fish in Uganda’s water bodies. 

These, he said, are critical in addressing the challenge of food insecurity in the country as opposed to the Nile Perch and Tilapia.

Role of training colleges
 The scientists also want the Bill that is under scrutiny to emphasise the role played by the training institutions such as colleges in preparing personnel that work in the fisheries sector.

“This Bill is silent on capacity building and the role of training institutions in achieving the targets that we have set for ourselves,” Mr Efitre said.

He added: “So I would like to highlight that the tertiary training institutions and vocational training institutions, who are specifically focusing on fisheries and aquaculture, have a crucial role to play. The Bill should, therefore, capture that as we move from Bill to the Act and the regulations.”

Background
The demands from the scientists follow a series of engagements that the Committee has had with some of the stakeholders in the fisheries sector across the country. Key among them are the members of the fishing communities who requested that the enactment of the Bill be delayed and also have Uganda People Defense Forces (UPDF) maintained on water bodies.

The others were the fish exporters who demanded that Parliament enacts a law banning the local consumption of Nile Perch Fish so that it is only preserved for export for foreign markets since it yields heavy revenue.

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