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Call to Promote Nile Perch Cage Farming

UGANDA - The Ugandan agriculture ministry has issued a warning that stocks of Nile perch are falling so rapidly that the country could run out in a few months.

This the ministry says would be disastrous to the country because the fish has been one of Uganda’s leading exports, bringing in more than $100 million a year.

While the fisheries state minister blames this on fishermen, who catch immature fish, and officials who fail to regulate them, this illicit practice is largely driven by the demand in Europe, Asia and other countries of the Great Lakes region, according to a report on Uganda's New Vision website.

The report adds that exports have pushed domestic prices up so that Ugandan consumers can only afford smaller fish and it says this is also drive by the fact that the younger fish have a better flavour.

The challenge for the fisheries sector is to ensure consistent and high production, says New Vision.

THe call has now gone out not only to police Lake Victoria better to stop illegal fishing to allow stocks to increase, and the report says that while it has not been possible to farm the fish on land, cage farming on the lakes remains a feasible option to help boost stocks.

"Government should therefore put in place the necessary regulations and guidelines for cage fish farming. They should initiate a campaign to attract investors to do cage farming on Ugandan lakes and provide incentives such as tax exemption on inputs," says New Vision.

"The aquaculture department in the ministry should also create a one-stop information centre for investors."