Plans made in Uganda to lease areas of Lake Victoria for caged aquaculture
Tuesday, February 18, 2003
New Vision (Kampala, Uganda). By Geresom Musamali
Lucrative parts of Lake Victoria in Kalangala are due to be leased to private farmers with the capability to engage in more economic methods of acquatic production.
The Uganda Fisheries Conservation Association (UFCA) is behind the new move. Much as the private leasing of parts of the lake is the price the people have to pay for aspiring to keep their market share of the European Community fish exports, the development has sent shivers down the spines of the men, who think the change is for the worse. But most women feel it is time to move on.
Sulait Namisole, a fisherwoman on Lugyabwe Island, said during Kyamuswa Constituency MP Tim Lwanga's recent tour of the islands, she welcomed cage farming because it will make women compete with the men.
Namisole said the hazards of fishing on the open lake had made the activity a male-dominated empire and in turn the men have continued oppressing the women. She, however, expressed fears of the reported dangers of genetic engineering if fish farming takes foreign trends.
"If we are going to rely on one source of fry, does it mean we shall lose our indigenous species such as mukeene?" she asked. Namisole also wondered whether the cages would not be an impediment to transport across the lake. She said the cages could entangle the fishing boats and lead to more disasters. Nuru Nammugga, another fisherwoman, also expressed worry about how the whole exercise would be handled.
Lwanga assured the women that government will ensure that the interests of the local communities are protected.
"The lake has not been sold and will not be sold. We will still be free to go out into the open, deeper waters and get any miserable catch you can. However, I feel that we could make more money, and live a better life, if we fed the fish and cared for it within restricted bays, the same way as some people do to farm chicken and cattle. How much longer are you going to persist in this life of hunting and gathering?" asked Lwanga. Ends