New Draft Aquaculture Policy Completed19 March 2012
UGANDA - The ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries has completed drafting a new policy that seeks to promote fish farming in the country through establishing aquaculture parks. The policy could go a long way in reviving the dwindling fish volumes that once made Uganda a strong fish-exporting country.
Government will identify specific areas in the country that are suitable for fish farming and acquire the sites for concentrated production. Jackson Wadanya, the Assistant Commissioner of fisheries in the ministry of Agriculture, says Uganda has the potential of becoming a top African fish-exporting country, reports AllAfrica.
"When you compare Uganda to other countries in the region, the country has a number of water spaces in the form of wetlands and open water systems where aquaculture parks can be developed for both rural, smallholder pond based aquaculture system and commercial and industrial type production system," he says.
Uganda's commercial fishing industry continues to face a number of challenges. Mr Wadanya says the industry lacks policies that are friendly to investors. Some of the policies that affect the fishing industry include: the Fish Act 2000, water policy, environment management policy and implementation of public private sector partnerships, among others. Uganda's fish industry has been hit by overfishing; fishermen use illegal fishing gear to net immature fish.
The penalties for such actions are laughable, more like a slap on the wrist. Ruth Nankabirwa, the state minister of agriculture in charge of fisheries, says her ministry is working out some policies that will institute harsh penalties against illegal fishing activities. To implement the aquaculture policy, the ministry of agriculture will work with other government agencies such as the ministry of Water and Environment, ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives Uganda Investment Authority and ministry of Lands and Urban Development among other state agencies.
In the policy, the ministry of Water and Environment will be responsible for granting a water user's rights. It will also establish guidelines and regulations for access and use of water. The ministry of Trade will be responsible for issuance of trading licences and also disseminating market information regarding fish and related products. Micheal Mugabira, an investment officer at the Uganda Investment Authority, says the aquaculture parks will be open to everyone, regardless of nationality.
"Since our economy is a free economy, UIA will offer the opportunities for commercial fish production to all nationals as long as the applicant meets the obligation and regulations governing investors in the country" he said.
Mr Mugabira noted that government incentives for commercial scale aquaculture enterprises shall be accessed only where the investor is fully registered and with approved business and technical production plans.
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