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Socio-economic and sustainability consequences of the decline of large fish species in the Ugandan large lakes Public Deposited

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  • The large lakes (Victoria, Albert, Kyoga, George, and Edward), covering 75% of Uganda’s surface area under contribute up to 90% of the capture based fisheries production. Until the late 2000s, the commercial fisheries in these lakes was largely based on species that grow to large sizes (> 20 cm) including; Lates niloticus, Oreochromis niloticus, Protopterus aethiopicus, Bagrus Dockmak, and Clarias gariepinus, constituting >80% of the landed annual catches. Analysis of fish catch statistics (2005-2016) from these lakes revealed a sweeping shift in the commercial species composition from dominance of the large to the small size species. On lakes Victoria and Kyoga, Rastrineobola argentea dominates (40-60%) the catch while Brycinus nurse and Mesobola bredoi constitute 80% of the Lake Albert total catch. The small haplochromine cichlids account for 90% of the fish biomass in lakes Edward and George. Despite the dominance, the economic value of the small size fishes is still insignificant ( < 1 5% of total beach revenue). The shifts in species composition and drivers for utilization of the small fishes were investigated. We attribute the decline of the large sized species to heavy fishing pressure and unsustainable exploitation coupling use of illegal fishing gears (beach-seines, traps, monofilament gillnets, cast-nets, and under-size gillnets and hooks). The low economic contribution of the dominant small size species is attributed to poor post-harvest handling. The study recommends illegal fishing effort control and improvement of post-harvest handling facilities to increase the utilization of the small fishes. Key words: Selective fishing, Stock collapse, value addition, Marketing
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  • Seattle, Washington, USA
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