Inland Fisheries Management and Development

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Fisheries and aquaculture are important components of agricultural production and productivity in the Nile. Nile Basin fisheries are mainly freshwater lakes, rivers and marsh sources and human-derived aquaculture. Freshwater fisheries have a large potential to enhance income opportunities for many thousands of people and contribute towards food and nutritional security of millions in Kenya, southern Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. Fisheries are non-consumptive users of water, but require particular qualities, quantities and seasonal timing of flows in rivers and dependent wetlands, lakes, and rivers.

Aquaculture production (metric tons)

Aquaculture is understood to mean the farming of aquatic organisms including fish, mollusks, crustaceans and aquatic plants. Aquaculture production specifically refers to output from aquaculture activities, which are designated for final harvest for consumption.

In 2014, aquaculture production in the Nile Basin countries reached 1,289,234 tons, 88% of which is farmed in Egypt. Egypt is the main producer of farmed fish; since the mid-1990s it has rapidly expanded its aquaculture. Aquaculture expansion has contributed to increasing the total fisheries production in Egypt. Aquaculture activities in Egypt are more concentrated in sub-regions of the Nile Delta, where the water resources are available. Most of the aqua culture production is derived from farmers’ use of earthen ponds in production systems. Uganda is a distant second of the total basin aquaculture production. Kenya, Rwanda and Sudan are developing fisheries with the help of foreign aid to boost production which, together with other basin countries, represents 1 per cent of the farmed fish in the basin.

Uganda’s aquaculture export market, regional use and employment have risen dramatically over the past 10 years. Aquaculture production is still negligible in most of the sampled countries, although in countries such as Kenya,– in addition to Tanzania which mostly cultivate seaweed – aquaculture is developing and its contribution to GDP is rising. Most aquaculture is conducted in earthen ponds, but at a wide range of intensities. At the low end are small ponds of less than 500 square meters, which contribute to the stability and durability of small-scale farming systems in Africa. When regularly stocked and fertilized, these units produce 1,000–2,000 kg per hectare per year of fish for household consumption and sale or barter. However, aquaculture has also contributed to serious water pollution when not well managed, a problem that is likely to intensify with increased aquaculture activities.

Capture fisheries production (metric tons)

Capture fisheries production measures the volume of fish catches landed by a country for all commercial, industrial, recreational and subsistence purposes.

Diminishing water level, and pollution have acute consequences for several economic sectors that depend on the basin lakes, It greatly affects the fishery by changing water levels. Water-level variations affect shallow waters and coastal areas which are of particular importance for numerous fish species, at least in certain stages of their lives. Pollution also poses a problem for fishery productivity in the Nile Basin. Some of the rivers feeding the lake and the shoreline are particularly polluted by municipal and industrial discharges. Cooperation between all concerned authorities is necessary to search for coherent solutions to ensure the sustainability of the fisheries.

Source: WDI, 2016

Lake Victoria Fisheries Trends in the most important fish stocks

Lake Victoria is the second largest lake in the world, covering an area of 68,000 km2 and surrounded by a dense and fast growing human population of at least 25 million people. In addition to its size, the lake is unique in several ways. It supports one of the world’s biggest inland fisheries aimed at both domestic consumption and international export and it has experienced some of the most extreme ecological perturbations ever observed in a large freshwater environment. The total catch from Lake Victoria by species is shown in the adjacent chart. The most notable change in the demersal Lake Victoria fish community and fishery is the fundamental metamorphosis in the mid 1980’s when it suddenly changed from being dominated by the diverse species flock of endemic haplochromines (contributing around 90% of the demersal biomass) to a much simpler fauna consisting of three primary species: Nile perch, Dagaa in the open waters and the introduced Nile tilapia along the shores.

Trends in effort and estimated total catch rates

Effort statistics prior to 2000 are less reliable than the catch statistics, but the overall pattern largely mirrors the changes in overall catches. There have been three main periods intersected with periods of rapid growth: the mixed cichlid fishery from the 1950s to the 1980s; the fast growing Nile perch fishery during the 1980s; the relatively stable Nile perch/Dagaa fishery from 1990 to the turn of the century; a doubling of the Dagaa fishery 2003 – 2006 and a possible new stable phase since 2005/6. Water levels, flows modification, pollution, affects fisheries production. From late 2000 to 2005, L- Victoria level receded on the coastline by ~5m, reducing fish habitats and spawning grounds.

Benefits from Fisheries Management in the Nile

Based on current stock estimates, the lake has the potential to yield fish valued at over US$ 800 million annually on a sustainable basis. Further processing and marketing the fish in the local and export markets could provide opportunity to generate additional earnings. Currently, however, only about 500,000 tons of fish is landed annually, with an average landing value of approximately US$ 600 million. Further processing and marketing of this fish in the local and export markets can generate an additional value of about US$ 57 million.

Inland fisheries, and related export and regional trade, can play a significant role in the economy of regions and countries. The sector contributes 4% to GDP in DR Congo and 2.5% in Tanzania (2013). Inland fisheries provide employment and income for several million people (estimated employment population employed in the sector amounts to 445,981 people.

Industrial sector contribution to national water withdrawal, 2014

Types of benefit Distribution
Kenya Uganda Tanzania
Production (US$ Mill.) 115 156 180
Contribution to GDP 0.5% 1.5% 1.8%
Employment of fishermen (2002) 54163 41674 80053
Foreign Exchange Earnings (US$ Mill) 50 88 112
Per Capita Fish Consumption (Kg/year), 5 12 12
Contribution to Animal Protein (1994-97) 10.6% 29.7% 32.6%
Balance of Trade N/A N/A N/A
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