Nile perch resources are under stress and production is going down. The three producing countries report lower exports of fillets to the EU, the main market for this product. In 2008, shipments to the EU declined by 10,000 tonnes, and further reduction is likely this year. Prices are going down, as the competition of cheap pangasius is felt. In this bleak environment, the only hope is adding value to the product, through certification schemes.
Nile perch resources are dwindling. The Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization (LVFO) estimates that the Nile perch stock was down from 1.9 million tonnes in 1999 to 370,000 tonnes last year. Catches of Nile perch are now controlled and several management measures are in place. Unfortunately, some illegal fisheries that escape control do occur on the lake. Without doubt, an important role could be played by the processing industry, if they refused to buy from unknown suppliers.
Naturland, a German eco-certifier announced in April 2009 that Lake Victoria Nile perch from specific sites has now been certified sustainable, and products will carry the organisation's ecolabel in future. The certification covers about eight landing sites in the western region of Lake Victoria and involves about 1,000 fishermen, in Bukoba, Tanzania. Products from the area will be both frozen and chilled fillets. They will be marketed initially in German-speaking countries. It is an interesting initiative, as it will give certification to small scale fisheries, generally excluded from the main stream of eco-certification. The initiative was in part financed by the German development assistance, GTZ.
|Imports of Nile perch to the EU ('000 tonnes)
|January to December||January to March|
The outlook is bleak, as it will take the resource quite some time to recover. Despite the lack in supply, prices of Nile perch are going down. This is mainly caused by the strong competition of pangasius fillets in the market. Prices are relatively low at the moment at €6.20/kg, which compares with €7.00/kg one year ago.