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

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs