Theme of the 2021 World Fisheries Day celebrations: “Recognizing and Supporting the Contribution and Sustainable Development of Small Scale Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture”
The World Fisheries Day celebrated on 21st November annually presents an opportunity for stakeholders in the fishing industry to reflect on the state of Fisheries resources.
On 22nd November 2021, Uganda joined the rest of the world to commemorate the day. The celebrations to mark the day were held at St. Isidoro (Negri) Bar-Dege, Layibi Division in Gulu City. The event was presided over by the Minister of State for Fisheries, Hon. Hellen Adoa and attended by major actors in the fisheries industry in Uganda as well as political and religious leaders from Gulu District.
Highlighting the achievements and challenges faced by the fisheries sector globally, participants expressed concern over the continued depletion of fish from water bodies as a result illegal and unregulated fishing methods.
Addressing participants, the Minister of State for Fisheries, Hon. Hellen Adoa called for more investment in fish farming to salvage the industry. “The fishing sector is faced with numerous challenges. The persistent use of illegal fishing gears and methods has resulted in catching and processing of immature fish. This has led to the decline of fish stocks reducing fish catches and consequently undermining the contribution of the sector to the economy," she explained, calling on the general public to embrace aquaculture. "Uganda is well endowed with water resources, good climate and raw materials for the production of fish feeds. With all these, we are well positioned to undertake aquaculture. Aquaculture can be practiced on commercial scale, in ponds, tanks and cages and has great potential to fill the gap created by the declining fish catches from natural water bodies. It also has potential to provide employment," she noted.
The Minister acknowledged the support rendered various actors towards the development of the fishing industry, one of the country’s major foreign exchange earners.
Emphasizing the contribution of the Fisheries Sector to the economy, the Commissioner Fisheries at the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), Ms Joyce Ikwaput Nyeko called for concerted efforts to address the challenges affecting the industry. "Uganda is blessed with a lot of water resources with 20% of our surface area covered by lakes, rivers, swamps, and has potential to provide 1.7 million tonnes from both aquaculture and capture fisheries. This is however undermined by numerous challenges including unregulated fishing, lost fish habitats and global warming. This calls for drastic interventions to sustain the industry,” she said. Currently, Uganda exports fish worth 177 million USD and is second to coffee in foreign exchange earnings from non-traditional exports. The fishing industry in Uganda provides employment to 1.2 million people and supports 5.3 million people. Besides the commercial benefits, fish and fisheries products play an important role in food and nutritional security around the world.
Representing Hauge Aqua, Dr Ronald Semyalo, a Lecturer at the Department of Zoology, Entomology and Fisheries Sciences, College of Natural Sciences, Makerere University called for more training and skilling of youth in Fisheries and Aquaculture as a measure to minimize unemployment. The Department of Zoology, Entomology and Fisheries Sciences, Makerere University supports training in fisheries and aquaculture at various institutions in the country.
As part of the activities to mark the day, key stakeholders in the fishing industry including the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries; the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO); NutriFish Uganda; and the National Fisheries Resources Research Institute (NaFIRRI) showcased some of their products.
Exhibition by NutriFish Uganda
Supported by the International Research Development Centre (IDRC) and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) through their joint programme, Cultivate Africa's Future Fund (CultiAF), NutriFish aims to address the nutritional needs of vulnerable groups that cannot afford expensive commercial fish but are in critical need of high quality nutritious diets.
As key stakeholders in Uganda's fishing industry, the project team led by Dr Jackson Efitre actively participated in the exhibition to mark World Fisheries Day in Gulu City. At their stall, the researchers showcased some of their products from small pelagic fish, actively engaging and explaining to participants the nutritional benefits and the product flow process of the fish. Some of the products showcased included, composite flour enriched with mukene (silver fish), Baghia from Nile Perch, fish sauce with mukene, instant porridge enriched with mukene, fish seasoning with mukene, mukene snack and the solar tent drier.
Graduation Ceremony – Award of a Certificate in Community Aquaculture, Level 1
During the ceremony, 100 students from two community aquaculture schools in Arivu, Arua District and at St. Isidoro Farm in Gulu District graduated with a Certificate in Community Aquaculture, Level 1. The graduation ceremony was presided over by Gulu Archdiocese Archbishop, His Grace John Baptist Odama.
The two schools were established with support from Caritas International as part of the contribution of the Catholic Church towards the development of aquaculture in Uganda, and eradication of poverty and hunger in line with sustainable development goals 1 and 2. The project aims to uplift the lives of the vulnerable and unemployed youth and women through creating skills in fish farming, entrepreneurship, and cooperatives for marketing products in the fish value chain. To date, 1,051 students have completed training at these schools.
In his remarks, the National Director, Caritas Uganda, Msgr Dr. Francis Ndamira appreciated the support rendered by Makerere University Department of Zoology, Entomology and Fisheries Sciences towards the training of students.
Compiled by Hasifa Kabejja, Principal Communication Officer