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Lake Victoria fisheries: Outlook and management

Njiru, James, van der Knaap, Martin, Kundu, Rodrick, Nyamweya, Chrisphine
Lakes & reservoirs 2018 v.23 no.2 pp. 152-162
Lates niloticus, Oreochromis niloticus, Rastrineobola argentea, artisanal fishing, biodiversity, climate change, ecosystems, fish, fisheries management, fishery resources, invasive species, issues and policy, lakes, overfishing, Eastern Africa, Lake Victoria
The past subsistence of the Lake Victoria fishery was dominated by rich, diverse haplochromine cichlids. This multispecies fishery has undergone a decline over the past four decades, evolving into a commercial fishery consisting mainly of Nile perch (Lates niloticus), Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) and cyprinid (Rastrineobola argentea species). To better understand Lake Victoria fisheries, studies dating as far back as the 1920s have been carried out to assess the status of the fish stocks. These past studies indicated the lake fisheries were declining because of numerous major challenges, including intense fishing, invasive species, loss of biodiversity, ecological alterations, climate change, inadequate information to inform management and unharmonized policies. Numerous policies and regulations have been developed and implemented over the years to address these issues and manage the fisheries sustainably. Most of the interventions have been sectorial, disjointed and unharmonized and have not reduced the declining fish catch rates. With reestablishment of the East Africa Community (EAC) with several institutions in 1994, the Lake Victoria riparian states initiated an ecosystem approach to manage the Lake Victoria fishery resources in a sustainable manner. This study reviews the development of the Lake Victoria fisheries, outlines major past and present management challenges and provides a set of new strategies to manage the lake's fisheries resources, with emphasis on an ecosystem approach.