Hoima, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The price of fish has almost doubled in most markets in the Bunyoro sub region over the last four months.
According to a survey conducted by Uganda Radio Network (URN) in Buliisa, Masindi, Hoima, Kikuube and Kagadi, the prices of fish in the markets have skyrocketed.
The smallest fresh Tilapia fish is being sold at shillings 7,000 up from shillings 3,500 while the biggest cost, shillings 20,000 which is also up from shillings 10,000.
Geofrey Murungi, a fishmonger at Hoima central market says the price change has not only affected Tilapia but also other types of fish including Nile perch and mudfish. According to Murungi, a kilogramme of Nile perch at Hoima central market currently costs shillings 15,000 up from shillings 10,000 in January.
Edward Kamukumba, the chairperson Hoima central market attributes the increase in fish prices to the massive crackdown on the use of illegal fishing gear on the lake Albert waters.
Recently, the Uganda Peoples Defense Forces (UPDF) launched an operation on the lake Albert waters against illegal fishing gear. This forced many fishermen to abandon fishing following the confiscation of their illegal fishing gear.
According to Kamukumba, the fishermen had been the major fish suppliers to the markets in Bunyoro but they can no longer supply or go fishing after the confiscation of their fishing gear.
Cusbert Bingi, a fish dealer at Kalolo landing site in Kigwera sub county, Buliisa district says many fishermen lack the recommended big boats and other fishing gear as required by the law adding that as the operation to crackdown on illegal fishing gear commenced, many fishermen abandoned fishing and resorted to other businesses causing scarcity of fish.
John Atugonza, a fisherman at Kyaterekera landing site in Kagadi district however attributes the hike in fish prices to persistent attacks by DR Congo militiamen who have continued to attack Ugandan fishermen on the lake and as a result many fishermen have abandoned fishing and resorted to doing other businesses.
Umar Ntambi, a resident of Kyangwali in Kikuube district says fish has become a preserve of rich people. He says initially they used to eat fish on a daily basis but that is no more since the prices have skyrocketed.
Jane Katusiime, a fish dealer at Kaiso landing site in Hoima says the army operation against illegal fishing has seen many illegal fish dealers quit the market.
David Busobozi, a fisherman at Butiaba landing site in Buliisa district says gone are the days when they used to rush into the lake to carry out fishing, but now fishing is restricted.
James Mwesigwa, the Hoima District Fisheries Officer says they are currently mobilizing fishermen to embrace fish cage farming on the lake and other water bodies that will help boost fish production in the region.