What you need to know:
- The issue: Local consumption of Nile Perch
- Our view: Nile Perch is not only a delicious meal for many. It is said to have important nutrients including Omega 3 and protein. To ban Ugandans from fishing for it for local consumption would be sacrilegious.
The Uganda Fish Processors Exporters Association (UFPEA) have come up with an extremely absurd and inherently selfish proposition as far as the consumption and sell of Nile Perch goes.
Research including that done by Food and Agriculture Organisation, generally shows that Nile Perch was introduced into Lake Victoria in the 1950s.
While it was introduced amidst controversy and disapproval, with one camp arguing it would destroy the lake’s eco-system and another camp saying it would provide the lake with a fishery, the fish stock grew exponentially over the years and Ugandans have come to consider Nile Perch as a well-liked meal which feeds millions of people.
It is why the request by the UFPEA to have local consumption of the fish banned, is bizarre.
Their chairperson, Mr Sujal Goswami, argued in Parliament that the Fisheries and Aquaculture Bill, 2021 if passed, will “guarantee that the exporters have enough Nile Perch stock to feed into their businesses and ensure there is constant supply of the fish species to satisfy the tastes of foreign consumers of the widely sought-after delicacy.”
This was captured in the Sunday Monitor of October 24, 2021 in a story with the headline: Ban local eating of Nile Perch – exporters.
Mr Goswami further stated that they are on the verge of losing the market in European Union, which market prefers and imports only Nile Perch.
“Why don’t you leave Nile Perch for exports and tilapia for local consumption and for equality and equity?” he asked. The exporters’ concerns are understandable. Any business person would want to ensure they have stock to continue feeding a market, especially a picky one. However, exports or trade in a country should not be done at the expense of the country’s citizens.
Instead the exporters should argue for:
i) All fishermen to be drafted into Beach Management Units to ensure they follow the rules and guidelines and as such fish responsibly
ii) Stringent punishments be given to those found guilty of for example, netting immature fish
iii) Continuous and strict patrol of the shores of the lake to ensure rules are followed.
Nile Perch is not only a delicious meal for many. It is said to have important nutrients including Omega 3 and protein.
To ban Ugandans from fishing for it for local consumption would be sacrilegious. What Parliament needs to do is harmonise the needs of the local fishermen, the traders and ensure regulation that sees to it that both Ugandans and the foreign market get a piece of the pie.