At one time there were over 20 fish factories operating in Uganda, mostly exporting Nile perch fillets, but that number had fallen to just five in 2017 after a dramatic decline in fish stocks. There has been a recovery since, spurred partly by the harsh enforcement of fishing regulations, and 12 processing companies are now in operation. But the industry continues to be buffeted by challenges, says Sujal Goswami, the general manager of Karmic Foods and chairman of the Uganda Fish Processors and Exporters Association (UFPEA). The army’s intervention helped fish stocks to recover, but few consider it to be a long-term solution. A new fisheries bill, tabled in parliament in March, plans to create a chief fishing officer to oversee the sector, increase penalties for illegal fishing, and establish a paramilitary surveillance unit, similar to the wildlife rangers that manage national parks. As part of that plan, the government is currently designing two “aquaparks”, in Apac and Kalangala districts, which will house hatcheries, feed stores, nursing ponds and production units. The focus will be on tilapia and catfish, with capacity at each site to produce 40,000 tonnes a year. The parks will be run as a public-private partnership, and the government is currently looking for an operator.
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