Posted with permission from allAfrica.com

The Minister for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Dr Charles Tizeba, has expressed concern over the dwindling fish catches in Lake Victoria currently standing at round 370,000 units a year.

Dr Tizeba's concern, however, is based on the fact that the production does not match with speedy growth of fish consumers across the country evidenced by the general populations growing at 2.6 per cent per annum according to statistics.

Speaking during a three-day national stakeholder workshop on food losses and wasted resources from Lake Victoria yesterday, the minister said that the demand is increasing due to population growth and increased awareness of nutritive superiority of fish over many other substitute food products.

"Statistics show that total fish production from our inshore marine and inland capture fisheries grows at a slow pace comparing to escalating populations and this calls for immediate interventions to redress the matter," said Dr Tizeba.

He said that with the current population of about 50 million people, growing at about 2.6 pc per annum, there was a need to find out other sources for increasing production and ultimately increase the supply.

He suggested a reduction of fish losses and wasted resources which stand at 25 per cent of late. Dr Tizeba said that fish supply from Tanzania water bodies seems to be in an alarmingly declining stage due to a number of factors that include over fishing, illegal fishing, degradation of aquatic habits and climate change, among others.

Current statistics show that the annual per capita fish consumption has declined from 15kg in the 1970s to about 8kg today.

He noted that in order to overturn this negative trend, the government has developed and is implementing sustainable approaches to utilisation of fisheries resources, one of which is participatory Fisheries Management.

The minister pointed out that the fisheries policy that is currently under review has a policy area solely dedicated to reducing post- harvest losses.

Dr Tizeba said that despite the efforts that have been deployed, fisheries sub-sector still faces significant challenges as the post-harvest loss seems to be the norm in the country and the whole of sub-Saharan African region.

The Ministry's Permanent Secretary (PS), Mr Yohana Budeba, said that the workshop would elaborate on how the fish loss and wasted resource assessment methodologies had been developed, tested and validated.

He banked on the workshop participants hoping that they will have an opportunity to share experiences and ideas that will finally come out with more robust assessment techniques