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Govt eyes cage culture to boost fish stocks

The National Fisheries Resources Research Institute (NaFIRRI) researching about fish farming in Uganda’s major lakes.

Cage culture, the practice of farming fish in large waters, in box-shaped structures, is an alternative the Ugandan government is pursuing to increase fish production in the wake of declining fish stocks, especially Tilapia.

“This kind of technology is 100 times more productive than the ponds,” said Dr. John Balirwa, the Director, and NaFIRRI.

Lakes Victoria, Albert have been selected for the pilot studies. NaFIRRI researchers have since March 2012 been observing the growth of fish in cages, in Lake Victoria, just near the institute’s headquarters in Jinja. They have also been sensitizing fishing communities on cage culture in the districts of Jinja and Mayuge.

Mujib Nkambo, a fisheries expert at NaFIRRI, says cages can be made from locally available materials such as bamboo, other than metallic bars, which are costly. Nkambo said that most cages were 2.5 square meters. “[They] can be larger depending on the owner’s needs and the quantity of fish to be reared,” he added.

In practice, a cage is put in shallow water and left to float preferably a meter off the lake bed. A feeder is put on top of the cage. Fish may be harvested between six and eight months.

NaFIRRI, in encouraging the development of the cage culture, has offered free training for those interested in cage farming. Currently, Uganda produces 90,000 tons of fish annually and the government wishes to see this number rise up to 300,000 tons by 2016.

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