Uganda loses $180m (Shs427b) in foreign earnings annually to illegal fishing, Fisheries minister Ruth Nankabirwa has said. The loss figure is an estimate since 2007 when illegal fishing intensified in the country, the minister said. She said since 2007, the greatest percentage of fish on the local markets is immature and uncompetitive on the international market, leading to low earnings or none at all.
“Sixty per cent of the fish caught in Uganda is immature and access to the European market has been cut off, leaving us in economic dilemma,” Ms Nankabirwa said last week as she launched a capacity building programme to promote fish marketing and trade in the Horn of Africa.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is sponsoring the programme. About $490,000 has been set aside to pilot the project in Uganda for 20 months effective September 2011. The project coordinator, Mr Paul Omanyi, said their aim is to improve fish quality through value addition and prevention of illicit fish trade
The deputy Commissioner for Fisheries, Ms Rhoda Tumwebaze, said the ministry is stuck as fishermen using illegal gear have resorted to making the equipment locally following the ban on its importation.
Ms Nankabirwa said she is hopeful that the FAO intervention will be helpful through sensitisation.