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Fisher folk demand more fish cages

A fisherman harvests fish from cages in Lake Victoria, Budalang'i constituency, Busia County. [Ignatius Odanga, Standard]

Fishermen want Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong’s administration to increase fish cages from the current 201 to 1,500 to make them self-reliant.

The county rolled out the Sh28 million modern fish rearing project three years ago to ease pressure on Lake Victoria occasioned by overfishing.

Fishing in the lake was then restricted to two days in a bid to replenish stocks.

The project was also aimed at curbing arrest and torture of local fishermen by Uganda authorities.

Three years on, the benefits of cage fish farming are being felt not only by fishermen, but also the community in Budalang'i and Funyula constituencies.

In January, the fishermen under their Beach Management Units (BMU) donated Sh1.5 million to 214 needy bright students.

Each student received Sh7,000 fees for Form One. The Sh1.5 million was part of the Sh3 million proceeds obtained from the first harvest of the fish from cages.

Majority of the beneficiaries were fishermen’s children who, according to County BMU Chairman Sylvester Kaiywa, hardly joined Form One due to lack of school fees.

Kaiywa said next year they plan to spend Sh3 million to pay school fees for 428 students in the four year programme dubbed Beach Management Unit Education Scholarship.

“We project to educate at least 1,050 students after four years at a cost of Sh22 million,” said Kaiywa. To realise this, the fishermen are agitating for more cages.

Fishermen, through BMUs and communities, own 60 per cent of the cages while 40 per cent belong to private investors. One fish cage produces 1,800 fish, equivalent of 720kg.

The county executive member for Agriculture Moses Osia said cage fish farming was slowly eradicating ‘fish for sex’ in Budalang’i and Funyula.

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