Uganda: Glowing Vietnam Catfish Threat to Fish Exports

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
21 February 2007, at 12:00am

UGANDA - Vietnam's massive out put of Pangasius catfish, whose white meat is very similar to that of Nile perch, is flooding EU markets and is affecting Uganda's export revenue.

A glowing catfish from Vietnam is posing stiff competition to Nile perch, Uganda's most successful fish export to the European Union, according to the Fisheries Department.

The country's annual earnings from fish exports last year suffered a shortfall of about $7 million (Shs12 billion), due to booming exports of Pangasius hypophthalmus from Vietnam.

"Vietnam's massive production of Pangasius species, whose white meat is closely related to the Nile perch, hit the EU market, and it affected our returns," Fisheries Commissioner Dick Nyeko said in an interview with Business Power.

Last year, Uganda exported 3,000 tonnes fewer of Nile perch fish fillets to the EU, and earnings slumped by 25 per cent. The country earned Shs244 billion, down from the Shs255 billion earned from the 35,000 tonnes exported the previous year.

Mr Nyeko said about 100,000 tonnes of whole fish are harvested annually from Lake Victoria, but only 32,000 tonnes are exported as fillets. What remains is used as by-products or becomes waste. Spain continues to be the main EU market for Nile perch fillets, followed by France and Italy.

Regionally Uganda's fish exports go mainly to the DR Congo and Southern Sudan.

Overall Nile perch exports to the EU from all of East Africa dropped from 56,000 tonnes in 2004 to 52,000 tonnes in 2005.

In that year the price of Nile perch in the EU rose to euros 4.00 (Shs9,600) per kilogramme from euros 3,43 (Shs8,160). This is still far below the record level of euros 5.00 per kilogramme (Shs12, 000) reached in 2002 after the end of the EU import ban.