Rich Fisheries Poor Fisherfolk
Looking keenly on the situation in the Lake Victoria basin, the lifestyles, Education, infrastructure and health of the local people and the fact that these very people are directly involved in the generation of billions of shillings the fishing industry is known for, several disturbing questions arise from this situation; who receives the riches from the fish? Is it, the people who are involved in the fishing itself or is it people from outside? Does the revenue generated from the fishing trade benefit the areas that it comes from? Who are the main players in the fishing trade? Are they locals or outsiders? What are the measures that can be taken to reverse the situation?
Background of the issues in Lake Victoria Basin
Lake Victoria is the second largest fresh water lake in the world. With its 69,000 km, the lake has the same size as Ireland. The lake is shared between three countries Tanzania (which possesses 49% of the area of the lake, Uganda (45%) and Kenya (6%).
The total fish catch from Lake Victoria during the 1960's and 1970's was quite stable; about 100,000 tons of fish was caught annually. Until the mid 1970's the fisheries of Lake Victoria was exploited solely by small scale fishermen. During the early 1970's it was estimated that some 50,000 fishermen operated from some 12,000 fishing vessels (Butcher and Colaris, 1973). The fishermen had a varying degree of involvement in the fisheries; some fished only on a part-time or seasonal basis while others were full-time fishermen. Some 80% of the fishermen derived their primary income from fishing. Most of the fishermen were engaged in complementary agricultural activities. The tendency during the 1960's and 1970's was, however, that due to increased scarcity of land and lack of employment opportunities, a larger number of the men left the originally subsistence/part-time mode of exploitation and became full-time fishermen.
The fishing activity has...