East African Community (EAC) member countries sharing Lake Victoria on Monday signed an agreement aimed at conducting joint illegal fishing in Lake Victoria.
The agreement was signed in Tanzania’s northern tourist city of Arusha by ministers responsible for fisheries from Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. Other members of the EAC are Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan that do not share the lake.
A joint statement issued by the ministers said the aim of the joint illegal fishing operation in the lake, Africa’s largest lake, was to protect and sustain resources found in the lake.
Luhaga Mpina, Tanzania’s Minister for Livestock and Fisheries and Chairman of EAC Ministers for Fisheries, said the joint operation was also aimed at recovering fish stocks in the lake and subsequently boosting economies of the three countries. He said illegal fishing in Lake Victoria has decreased the number of immature fish from 96.3 percent to 62.8 percent.
Mpina said previous illegal fishing crackdowns in the lake have increased the number of mature fish from 3.3 percent to 32 percent. The minister paid tribute to fishing authorities in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda for beefing up campaigns against illegal fishing in the lake.
Mpina said the three countries also agreed to honor their statutory membership contributions to the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization, a specialized institution of the EAC with the mandate to coordinate the management of the fisheries resources of Lake Victoria for sustainable development and utilization, and to spearhead aquaculture development. The organization was established by a convention signed on June 30, 1994 by Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda sharing the lake.