News / Africa

Uganda Looks at Cages to Counter Declining Fish Stocks

Demonstration fish farming cages on the Nile River in Jinja, Uganda, Sept 24, 2013. (Hilary Heuler/VOA)
Demonstration fish farming cages on the Nile River in Jinja, Uganda, Sept 24, 2013. (Hilary Heuler/VOA)
Fish have long been a top export of Uganda, but Lake Victoria's fish stocks are in steep decline.  Now Ugandan authorities are encouraging locals to use a Chinese method of fish farming in cages, hoping it will boost fish exports and reduce pressure on the lake. 

Ggaba market in Kampala, on the shores of Lake Victoria, is all about fish.  On the pier auctioneers sell the morning’s catch to the highest bidder, while freezer trucks choke the narrow road, and families at plastic tables feast on roast tilapia.

But as fishermen will tell you, business is not what it used to be.

Fred Kasirye has been fishing these waters for 15 years.  But with unemployment so high, he said, more and more Ugandan men were trying to make a living on the lake.  The effect on fish stocks has been devastating.  Ten years ago, Kasirye said, he used to go out with 10 nets.  Now uses 50 nets, and still catches less than he did before.

Fishermen at the Ggaba fish auction, Sept 25, 2013 (Hilary Heuler/VOA)Fishermen at the Ggaba fish auction, Sept 25, 2013 (Hilary Heuler/VOA)
x
Fishermen at the Ggaba fish auction, Sept 25, 2013 (Hilary Heuler/VOA)
Fishermen at the Ggaba fish auction, Sept 25, 2013 (Hilary Heuler/VOA)
Lucas Ndawula, of the National Fisheries Resource Research Institute, or NaFirri, said the total catch from Lake Victoria has gone down by as much as a quarter in recent years.

“The stocks have been going down, and this has been a direct result of overfishing, especially fishing out the immature fishes.  And it’s not enough for the local consumption, for the domestic market and the regional market,” said Ndawula.

Floating in the Nile River in Jinja, just east of Kampala, are fish-filled cages that Ndawula thinks could be the answer to the problem.

“A cage is like a box, but a box made out of net mesh.  And also some metallic pieces, and some rocks of course, and some floats.  For floats here we use just plastic jerry cans,” he said.

For years fish have been a top export for Uganda, an important source of foreign exchange.  Alarmed at declining stocks, the Ugandan government has turned for help to China, where cage fishing is widespread.

A team of Chinese experts is in Uganda teaching NaFirri how to manage cages, growing fish fry and manufacturing feed.  While other lakeside countries have experimented with cage fish farming, Uganda wants to roll it out on a large scale.

Ndawula explained that a single cage could produce about five tons of fish at a time, which would earn fishermen more than fishing on the open lake.  Cage farming could also free subsistence fishermen from the unpredictable income that kept many mired in poverty, he added.

“Your production is predictable, which is not so with fishing in the wild.  You may go out with 100 nets and you come back with two pieces of fish.  But if you have your cage and you have looked after these fish very well, you can predict the production, and even the money that you can get from it,” said Ndawula.

But cages are expensive to set up.  The materials for just one cage cost twice as much as a basic fishing canoe, not counting the cost of feed and labor.  Baker Wasswa, who manages the fishermen's landing site in Ggaba, said this was why cage farming was unlikely to be the miracle solution NaFirri was hoping for.

“For these poor fishermen, they can’t afford cage fishing.  For most fishermen it’s not going to work. Cage fishing is for the rich people only.  You have to invest much before you get plenty of fish,” he said.

Wasswa suggested that the government could provide loans for people who want to build cages.  If that happened, he added, he would like to start cage farming himself.

You May Like

Video In Ukraine's Nikishino, No House Untouched by Fighting

Ninety percent of homes in one small village were damaged or destroyed as government forces failed to stop a rebel advance More

Pakistan’s 'Last Self-Declared Jew' Attacked, Detained

Argument about the rights of non-Muslims in Pakistan allegedly results in mob beating well-known Jewish Pakistani More

Turkey Cracks Down on Political Dissent, Again

People daring to engage in political dissent ahead of upcoming general elections could find themselves in jail More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
In Their Own Words: Citizens of Kobanii
X
Mahmoud Bali
March 06, 2015 8:43 PM
Civilians are slowly returning to Kobani, after Kurdish fighters backed by coalition airstrikes fought off a four-month siege of the northern Syrian town by Islamic State militants. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Mahmoud Bali talked to some of those who have returned. We hear about the devastation of Kobani through their own words.
Video

Video In Their Own Words: Citizens of Kobani

Civilians are slowly returning to Kobani, after Kurdish fighters backed by coalition airstrikes fought off a four-month siege of the northern Syrian town by Islamic State militants. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Mahmoud Bali talked to some of those who have returned. We hear about the devastation of Kobani through their own words.
Video

Video In Ukraine's Nikishino, No House Untouched by Fighting

In the village of Nikishino, in eastern Ukraine, recent fighting has brought utter devastation. Ninety percent of the houses are damaged or destroyed after government forces tried and failed to stop rebels advancing on the strategically important town of Debaltseve nearby. Patrick Wells reports for VOA from Nikishino.
Video

Video Crime Scenes Re-Created in 3-D Visualization

Police and prosecutors sometimes resort to re-creations of crime scenes in order to better understand the interaction of all participants in complicated cases. A Swiss institute says advanced virtual reality technology can be used for quality re-creations of events at the moment of the crime. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisis

There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Growing Concerns Over Whether Myanmar’s Next Elections Will Be Fair

Myanmar has scheduled national elections for November that are also expected to include a landmark referendum on the country's constitution. But there are growing concerns over whether the government is taking the necessary steps to prepare for a free and fair vote. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman was recently in Myanmar and files this report from our Southeast Asia bureau in Bangkok.
Video

Video Nigeria’s Ogonis Divided Over Resuming Oil Production

More than two decades ago, Nigeria’s Ogoni people forced Shell oil company to cease drilling on their land, saying it was polluting the environment. Now, some Ogonis say it’s time for the oil to flow once again. Chris Stein reports from Kegbara Dere, Nigeria.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More