• The project is aimed at sustainable management and development of fisheries to contribute to poverty alleviation, food and nutrition security while addressing climate change resilience and enhancing marine biodiversity.
• In the past 10 years, there has been a decline in fish catches, leading to low revenue generation.
The European Union has donated Sh260 million towards sustainable fishing in Lake Victoria.
The funding has been done through the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organisation (LVFO), an institution of the East Africa Community.
The ecofish project is aimed at sustainable management and development of fisheries to contribute to poverty alleviation and food and nutrition security while addressing climate change resilience and enhancing marine biodiversity.
It is a component of the major project called the Contribution of Sustainable Fisheries to the Blue Economy of Eastern Africa, Southern Africa, and the Indian Ocean region. The parent project is worth about EUR30 million (Sh3.9 billion). It covers 31 countries.
LVFO Deputy Executive Secretary Anthony Munyaho said the project will enhance the institutional, structural and legal frameworks of the organisation against the backdrop of expanded scope and mandate.
The five-year programme also focuses on reviewing the performance of Lake Victoria Fisheries Management Plan-III (2016-20) and drafting the Lake Victoria Fisheries Management Plan-IV (2021-25).
Other activities to be implemented are regional harmonisation of the annual licensing of fisheries, fishing boats and fishers; marking and protection of biodiversity hotspots and breeding/nursery areas in selected areas; and conducting lake-wide frame survey in the lake.
Munyaho said they will be establishing and implementing a regional monitoring, control, and surveillance (MCS) system. They are also focusing on the development of regional guidelines or framework on fisheries licensing, the establishment of user rights-based management systems and regional harmonisation, planning the implementation and conducting of MCS operations in the lake.
They will also train in enforcement, compliance and prosecution procedures and facilitation of national high-level policy dialogue on illegal unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. The officer spoke during the First ecofish regional programme steering committee meeting for the LVFO, which is high-level policy guidance for efficient implementation of the project in Kisumu.
During the meeting, the committee endorsed the programme estimate No.1 and its operational and closure periods from February 25, 2020, to September 13, 2024, and September 14, 2024, to May 12, 2025, respectively.
The project will also see fishing communities and lower-level leadership sensitised on the importance of their roles in combating IUU.
Further, the LVFO is committed to the provision of communication and visibility actions in line with the ecofish communication and visibility strategy. Deputy Director of Fisheries and Blue Economy Rodrick Kundu said the project focuses on the sustainability of fisheries resources in Lake Victoria.
Lake Victoria is the largest inland fishery in Africa and supports millions of people directly and indirectly, hence need to be well-managed, he said. In the past 10 years, Kundu added, there has been a decline in fish catches, leading to low revenue generation.
“With the project, we hope it will add value to the investments already done by the national government and partner states,” he said.
Kundu said the ecofish project will complement the efforts done by the countries. “In two to three years, we are expecting the recovery of fish stock and more people employed in the fishing industry,” he said.
The project will also strengthen the implementation of existing frameworks such as the regional fisheries management plan. Already, the regional leadership has made the initiative to control the illegality in the lake through the establishment of units such Fisheries Protection Unit (Uganda), Kenya Coast Guards (Kenya) and Multiagency Task Team (Tanzania).
Regional Lake Victoria Beach Management Unit Network chairman Tom Guda said the project will build on the existing structures and help in the recovery of fish stock.
The LVFO is one of the institutions of the East African Community (EAC) as provided for under Article 9(3) of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community. It is a regional intergovernmental organisation established by a convention that was signed in Kisumu on June 30, 1994. The convention has open membership to all of the EAC partner states and has competence in fisheries and aquaculture resources of the EAC water bodies.
Currently, the LVFO is constituted by four member states: Kenya, Uganda, Burundi and Tanzania. The ecofish programme is also implemented in four other regional economic communities such as the Southern African Development Community, Comesa, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, with the support of the European Union.