Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries has halted a move by a Chinese firm to introduce, breed and grow exotic species of fish in the country.
Dr Anthony Taabu Munyaho, the Director National Fisheries Resources Research Institute, says that the proposal was tabled for review by a Chinese investor. He, however, adds that they rejected it citing the numerous risks.
Dr Munyaho adds that Uganda has over 500 species, all them edible, which have been developed to commercial levels than making new introductions.
According to sources privy to the matter, the fish project was slated to be hosted in Katonga areas on a high scale cage fish farming mainly for export.
This is not the first time a possible introduction of a new fish species is put forward. In 2009, the government joined hands with its Chinese counterpart to set up an agricultural technology demonstration centre at Kajjansi Aquaculture Research and Development Centre.
The Chinese, then, we’re interested in introducing new fish species such as grass carp, silver carp, blue tilapia and bighead carp.
Dr Munyaho says following the introduction of Nile Punch in Lake Victoria there were several effects on the Victoria eco-system. He explains that some species disappeared with time thus a need to be conscious of the new species.
He also cites the nature of Uganda transboundary water bodies since they are shared or linked to different countries where introducing a species is an issue that of more than one country.
Research by Kenya Fisheries Department indicates that there have been six exotic fish introductions in Lake Victoria basin which have had both positive and adverse implications on the lake’s biodiversity and fisheries. The Nile perch which was introduced in Lake Victoria by officials of the Uganda Game and Fisheries department between 1954and 1957 is the most famous.
The introductions have been accused of eliminating the native species through competition and hybridization as well as altering their gene pools. Farther, they have been reported to cause or initiate ecological imbalance. However, there is plenty of benefits that have been realized due to the introductions and associated developments since they have seen a big boost to the total quantity of fish.
Dr Edward Rukunya, the Fisheries Resource Director in Ministry of Agriculture notes that the available species including tilapia, the Nile perch among others are still doing well thus no need to introduce any other.
Dr Rukunya however, notes that in any case if a species is to be introduced in Uganda there is a formal procedure that is followed before it let into the Eco-system which can be followed by not just rushing the process.
The Fisheries Resource Director says that currently they are focused on increasing productivity of the available species and have so far developed a concept of establishing an infrastructure which will be hosted at a piece of land measuring over 500 acres which they have already surveyed in Katonga Wetland.