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Fish maw business now to be regulated

Minister Sempijja

Tough regulation for fish in offing

Kampala, Uganda | PATRICIA AKANKWASA | Fish maw business will soon be regulated to minimize exploitation of fish farmers and suppliers.

Vincent Sempijja, the agriculture minister told The Independent in an interview that the sale of fish maw has become a lucrative business for the middlemen at the expense of fish suppliers.

“That is why we want to regulate it so that our fish farmers and of course the fish mongers and the fisheries sector really benefits from this very lucrative business,” he said.

He said the government is presently carrying out consultation on the proposed Fisheries and Aquaculture Bill, 2018, to effect the regulation once it becomes law.

This comes in as many months after a row developed between the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries and exporters on one side and fish traders on the other over the sale of fish maws.

The row follows a directive by the agriculture ministry that fish maws should only be sold to recognised and licensed fish maw processors and exporters.

It also said fish maws should be bought by factories in the fish and not given back to the fish suppliers to enhance accuracy, transparency, and accountability in data gathering, food safety and overall increased contribution to the national economy.

Fish maws, also known as swim bladder or gas bladder that keeps some fish such as Nile Perch, buoyant, have been recommended for consumption especially in Asia as they are believed to have some traditional medicinal properties.

They are also said to be used in the production of surgical stitching threads, melamine plates and anesthetic drugs.

Data from the agriculture ministry shows that the country exported more than 500 tonnes of fish maws worth $35.5 million in 2015 compared with 300 tonnes worth US$24.5million exported in 2014.

Fish suppliers especially fishermen have welcomed the new development as they are destined to earn more income.

“I am paying my trade licence on a yearly basis. If they want to make regulations for the maw business, I have no problem with that,” said Aggrey Baramiire, the managing director for Allied Fish and Fish Maw Traders.

At the moment, there is no difference in pricing of the fish maws irrespective of the fish sizes.  I therefore do not see any problem with regulating the business.

The Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization in its report advises that fish maw should be recognised as a tradable product separate from fish so as to share the profits equally among the parties involved.

It also says that maw trade regulation should require fish factories to return maw to fish suppliers if they cannot pay for it.

Prices of fresh maw among different operators in the value chain

    Extractors and collectors Traders who buy from extractors and collectors Middlemen or factory agents
Category Weight(g) Price/kg (UGX) Price/kg (USD) Price/kg (UGX) Price/kg (USD) Price/kg (UGX) Price/kg (USD)
Small 15-49     –     – 100,000-140,000 26.7-37.4 140,000-200,000 37.4-53.5
Medium 1 50-99 170,000-200,000 45.5-53.5 230,000 61.5 250,000-400,000 66.9-106.9
Medium 2 100-199 300,000 80.2 330,000 88.3 350,000-500,000 93.6-133.7
Large 200-399 400,000 106.9 430,000 115.0 450,000-650,000 120.4-173.9
Extra large 400-699 500,000 133.7    –    – 550,000-800,000 147.1-213.9
Kilo 700-1000 600,000 160.5   –      – 900,000-1,000,000 240.7-267.5

Source: Food Safety Associates Limited Report 2018

 

 

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