A Catch Assessment Surveys (CAS) with the overall objective of generating information on the fish production and commercial value of the fisheries of Lake Albert and Albert Nile system was implemented by the National Fisheries Resources Research Institute (NAFIRRI) in collaboration with the Department of Fisheries Resources (DFR), Local Government staff (FOs) and BMU members at selected landing sites on Lake Albert (12 landing sites) and Albert Nile (26 landing sites) in July 2012.
A total 622 and 313 boat days on Lake Albert and Albert Nile respectively were sampled for a period of 9 days. Results indicate an annual landing of 151,600 and 5,900 tonnes (t) of fish with an estimated beach value of 122.5 and 14 Billion (UShs) from Lake Albert and Albert Nile respectively. Over 80% of the catch from Lake Albert comprised the small pelagic species; Neobola bredoi (Muziri) and Brycinus nurse (Ragoogi) followed by Nile perch (6%). However, due to low market value of the small fishes and the high prices attached to Nile perch for industrial processing and export market, the contribution of the latter to beach value rose to 34% of the total. The contribution of the light fishery based on small pelagic species ((B. nurse and N. bredoi) are insignificant on Albert Nile. Even if the small pelagic species may be present in the river system, a light fishery based on these two is yet to be developed. Proportionally, Albert Nile still remain a multispecies fishery with over 20 fish species harvested commercially. Interestingly, the Albert Nile fishery still remains primitive with simple crafts and gears (mainly dugout canoes, traps, and gillnets). This could suggest that the more developed the system becomes the higher the level of transformation in its fisheries leading to simplification, characterized by reduction in multispecies nature and dominance of few species.
Illegal gears especially undersized gillnet of mesh size less than 4 inches were the most dominant in the Lake Albert and Albert Nile fisheries. They captured large quantities of immature fish particularly when used to target Nile perch, Bagrus, Nile tilapia, and large Barbus spp. Their impact when used to target the smaller species (Ragoogi, Angara & Ngasia) is yet to be evaluated. A specific study to analyze selectivity and impacts of these nets is a recommended. However, the dominance of 1.5” mesh sizes especially on Albert Nile to target Angara, Ngassia and Barbus, is definitely destructive to their fisheries and should be checked forthwith. In addition, there is an emerging fishing method locally referred to as “Salsio or Luzira” whereby fishers stay on the lake from 3 days up to 2 weeks without returning to the landing site. They carry with them food and salt for processing the catches on the lake, and in the case of Albert Nile on make shift shelters on islands and in the game park. They normally use gillnets of 3-3½ inch mesh size and caught mainly Nile perch & Bagrus (Pethi & Munama). On return they land several tons of fish. Most of these Catches are not captured in the estimates presented in our analyses since we target daily fishing boats. The possible impacts of this fishing method should be studied and appropriate action recommended.