The Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization Profile

By Orbital Admin:21st Aug, 2009: Archive

Background

Lake Victoria is the world’s third largest lake and the largest lake in Africa with an area of 69,000 km2. It is the most important single source of freshwater fish on the African continent and is of great importance to the region’s economy and population being major sources of food, income, employment and foreign exchange earnings through exports of Nile perch.

The lake is shared by Kenya (6% by area), Uganda (43%) and Tanzania (51%) and provides fishery resources, transport, minerals and natural resources. The fishing is now worth an estimated US$ 600 million annually with US$350 million alone in export earnings. The lake fisheries support almost 2 million people with household incomes and meet the annual fish consumption needs of almost 22 million people in the region.

Members

Languages

 Contact Details

Kenya

Uganda

Tanzania

English

www.lvfo.org

General Enquiries contact:

lvfo-sec@lvfo.org


Mission and Objectives

The Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization (LVFO) was formed through a Convention signed in 1994 by the East African Community Partner States of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda as a result of the need to manage the fisheries resources of Lake Victoria in a coordinated manner. The Organisation is an institution of the East African Community (EAC) whose aim is to harmonize, develop and adopt conservation and management measures for the sustainable utilization of living resources of Lake Victoria to optimise socio-economic benefits from the basin for the three Partner States.

The functions of the LVFO are to:

  • Promote the proper management and optimum utilisation of fisheries and other resources of the lake;
  • Enhance the capacity of existing fisheries institutions;
  • Provide a forum for discussion of the impacts of initiatives on the lake;
  • Provide for the conduct of research on the living resources of the lake and its environment;
  • Coordinate and undertake training and extension in all aspects of fisheries;
  • Consider and advise on the impact of introductions of non-indigenous organisms into the Lake Victoria;
  • Serve as a clearinghouse and a data bank for information on the fisheries of the lake; and
  • Promote the dissemination of information.
Structure

The LVFO has a complex structure, designed to connect into the EAC structures and ensure regional equity and harmonisation. The LVFO Secretariat is the executive organ of the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization. It is headed by an Executive Secretary, currently Dick Nyeko, who ensures that the work programme and activities of LVFO are coordinated and implemented in accordance with the policy and decisions adopted by the Council of Ministers.

Various committees are involved in the management of the LVFO. The Council of Ministers is the Supreme body of LVFO. It makes and adopts measures for management and conservation of fisheries resources. It is made up of ministers from the Partner States responsible for responsible for fisheries. A Policy Steering Committee made up of Permanent Secretaries responsible for Fisheries review and submits management recommendations to the Council of Ministers. It is the Fisheries Management Committee, made up of Heads of Fisheries Management Institutions, that develops management policies and advises the Executive Committee on management and conservation measures.

Working groups implement the LVFO policies and activities under each of the LVFO programs. The Working Groups consist of staff from fisheries research and fisheries management institutions, and additional experts from Fisheries Training Institutions, Universities and Civil Society Organizations who are specialists in a given programme or thematic area. The Regional Working Group for Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (RWGMCS) is responsible for policy and implementation of the MCS strategy.

The fishing communities are organized through the formation of legally empowered Beach Management Units (BMUs). These are not formally part of the LVFO structure but it is intended that they will become formally integrated into the LVFO.

Recognising the important role played by the fish processing and export industry plays in the collaborative management system the LVFO are exploring ways to incorporate the processing industry in the statutory functions of the LVFO institutions and re-establish the Regional Association of Fish Processors and Exporters

The Fishery

Lake Victoria fishery is mainly a commercial fishery, with artisanal fishers, working from canoes propelled either manually or with outboard engines. There are three main commercial fish species in the lake:

Nile perch was introduced to Lake Victoria in the 1950s and 1960s and led to the huge boom in the fisheries in the 1990s, attracting investment, more fishers and the construction of processing plants. Around 75% of the Nile perch landed is exported, mainly to Europe, the US and the Middle East, making a significant contribution to employment, income, GDP and foreign exchange.

Nile tilapia was also introduced to the lake in the 1950s and 1960s and mainly serves the domestic and regional markets, contributing to food security as well as income and employment.

Dagaa (also known as mukene and omena) is a small sardine-like fish, most of which is dried and sold either for human consumption or for animal feed. Dagaa serves the local and domestic markets, but much is exported within the region, particularly the Democratic Republic of Congo, and even to Southern Africa. It is an important fish for the poor, as it is cheap and highly nutritious.

IUU Fishing Issues

A 2008 LVFO/FAO workshop Tanzania confirmed the illegal trade in undersized fish as the main driver of illegalities on Lake Victoria and then continued to identify a number of actions required to eradicate the damaging regional trade. The workshop identified illegal trade in undersized fish and associated markets as the major influence driving illegal fishing practices and increasing fishing capacity. This trade has been difficult to regulate and requires support from the highest level to enable government to take effective action to eradicate this problem.

The Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS) strategy identifies the main threats to sustainability from illegal activity as:

  • Use of illegal gears such as beach seines, monofilament nets and undersized gill nets
  • Capture, transport and processing of immature fish
  • Fishing in restricted areas
  • Fishing without the necessary permits
Fishery Rules and Regulations.

The main fisheries of Lake Victoria are governed by a series of control measures designed to maintain stocks and a stream of benefits to the resource users and other stakeholders. The main lake-wide technical controls are:

  1. Minimum gill net mesh size limit for Nile perch and tilapia of 5" (in Tanzania is "6 minimum size)
  2. Minimum mesh size for gill nets targeting dagaa is 10 mm
  3. Slot size of Nile perch for capture, processing and trading is from 50 to 85 cms (the upper slot size is not legislated in Uganda)
  4. Minimum size of Nile tilapia for capture, processing and trading is 25 cms
  5. The following gears and methods are prohibited for use on Lake Victoria: trawling, beach seines, monofilament nets, cast nets, drift nets, "tycooning", use of chemicals and explosives;
  6. Vertical joining of nets is illegal; and
  7. Gill nets with more than 26 meshes deep are prohibited.
There are other requirements and legislation requiring fishers to hold a current individual fisher license and a vessel fishing license or permit but these are currently very poorly implemented. To operate legally in the fishery the individual must be a member of a BMU.

The MCS framework

At a technical, operational level regional actions are co-ordinated through the LVFO Regional Working Group for Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (RWG MCS). The RWG has members from the fisheries department’s regulatory teams in all countries and also a representative from the security agency responsible for policing Lake Victoria waters. This RWG worked with stakeholders to develop the LVFO MCS Strategy for Lake Victoria waters and the Regional Standard Operating Procedures for Inspections. The group has also been instrumental in recent years in strategising and preparing action plans implementing the developing partnership between government and industry to fight illegal fishing.

In line with the operations and principles of the LVFO, actions to fight IUU fishing and trading would be agreed regionally and then implemented nationally with some regional monitoring to improve consistency. The RWG hold annual regional observer missions where national teams observe the enforcement operations of their colleagues from neighbouring countries.

A variety of approaches are being supported by the LVFO through multi-disciplinary, multi-agency and integrated actions on Lake Victoria. The BMUs are the foundation of the fishery co-management system on Lake Victoria and are the focus of efforts to increase compliance.

Levels of enforcement have also been increased in recent years with patrol units supported by the purchase of new fibreglass canoes, outboard engines, and safety and life-saving equipment, and by the provision of operational training to improve the effectiveness of their activities. Through the Implementation of a Fisheries Management Plan, LVFO has also purchased several 10 metre patrol boats for each Partner State for the Fisheries Departments to ensure access to all areas of the lake.

Regional

The regional approach to tackle illegal fishing and trading is framed in the Regional Plan of Action to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal Unregulated and Unreported fishing (RPOA IUU) signed by the Ministers responsible for fisheries in the three Partner States in 2004. The RPOA is closely allied with the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (CCRF) and calls for improved regional harmony and co-ordination of the national efforts to eradicate illegal fishing. Actions at regional, national and local levels are set out in this document. Previously national teams had conducted enforcement and education campaigns unilaterally which both reduced impact nationally and probably led to enforced migrations regionally. Also at regional level, the Fisheries Management Plan (2002) was approved by the three riparian states and this called for much increased collaboration between the enforcement teams around the lake and expected the co-management approach to make significant headway on improving compliance with fishery rules and regulation.

National

In recent years the EU funded Implementation of a Fisheries Management Plan (IFMP) project with additional support from national budgets. National co-ordination has been through the National Working Groups for MCS with very strong working links to the WGs responsible for co-management and fish quality. Efforts to increase compliance along with all activities under the IFMP have been completed through the adoption of a co-management approach. Many of the more traditional approaches to increasing compliance have been retained but fine-tuned to meet the criteria for stakeholder actions under a co-managed fishery. Activities included:

  1. Fishery law enforcement officers were trained to improve their understanding of co-management and the application of MCS techniques in a co-managed fishery;
  2. Intelligence networks were re-established to gather information on illegal activities;
  3. Intelligence based, targeted operations were mounted on land and water focusing on known hotspots of illegalities;
  4. Recent years have seen improved working with Customs and Immigration Agencies, and sometimes at great distances from the lake itself, in an attempt to eradicate the trade in undersized fish;
  5. Political advocacy with government and private sectors again to challenge the entrenched interests in the regional trade in undersized fish;
  6. Regular water operations were mounted to show visible support of the enforcement agencies (Fisheries Departments) to the fledgling BMUs;
  7. The LVFO RWG-MCS met regularly to review progress in implementation and share tactics and experiences;
  8. Prizes were awarded and recognition given to BMUs and Local Government Authorities successful in achieving a demonstrated level of compliance of members and constituents alike;
  9. Sensitization of judiciary and law enforcement agencies to ensure the application of the full force of the law during policing and judicial processes;
  10. Consultations were held with industrial processors and exporters to share information and ideas on future strategies to fight illegal fishing;
  11. Broad based education campaigns were being undertaken with the BMUs; and
  12. Extensive institutional strengthening of BMUs and raising their capacity for effective involvement in fisheries management
Community-level enforcement

It is at the local and community level where the biggest gains are needed in increasing the level of voluntary compliance with fishery rules and regulations. It is at this level at which peer pressure can come into play and self-policing is to be encouraged. The principal vehicles for this change in Lake Victoria are the Beach Management Units (BMUs). BMUs are legally constituted organisations responsible for managing the fisheries and the beaches over which they have jurisdiction.

Many of the BMUs see one of their main functions as supporting efforts to reduce illegal and destructive fishing and they are achieving this objective largely through the application of peer pressure, education and sensitisation, record-keeping of vessel activities and visitors and provision of information to security forces. However, some become involved in active pursuit and apprehension of illegal fishers and traders ideally in collaboration with security forces or local fisheries officers. The dangers of active pursuit by BMU members or officers have been recounted in many cases and the general advice is to pass information to security forces and allow them to conduct the pursuit. It is well known that many of the illegal operators are well supported by politicians, wealthy entrepreneurs and often enjoy the protection and collusion of armed agencies.

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