Resurgence of the commercial fish catches post UPDMF-FPU deployment on Lake Victoria, Uganda. (a case study of Masaka district)
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The commercial fishery of Lake Victoria is by biomass estimates and catches landed is dominated by three main species that is Mukene, Nile perch and Nile tilapia. Comparing 2019 catches with those of 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2015, there has been a steady increase in the catches since 2017 and this was expected due to the intervention of the Uganda People Marine Defense Forces- Fisheries Protection Unit in 2017. The catches of Nile perch have had the most significant improvement of the three species and this may be linked to the current efforts to combat illegality on the lake by the military and the protection of breeding and nursery grounds. The decline in 2020 could be attributed to the outbreak of COVID-19. The revenue generated from fish landings in the post deployment period (2017-2020) is significantly higher than that generated in the pre deployment. This could be due to a cascade of factors, the deployment of the UPDMF-FPU to combat illegality resulted into the recovery of the fisheries thereby increasing catches that translated into an improved revenue. Nile perch dominates the revenue contribution because of its higher price per kilogram. The effect of COVID-19 on the revenue was mainly due to the drop in the export and regional markets that resulted in a decline. The results from this study suggest that the Uganda People’s Marine Defense Forces- Fisheries Protection Unit is playing a crucial role in the recovery of commercial fisheries of Uganda. The coincidence of the decline of the fish catches and biomass to their lowest in 2016 and then the steady increase since 2017 just after intervention of Uganda People’s Marine Defense Forces- Fisheries Protection Unit could be evident enough to prove the impact of the forces. This is further supported by the fact that the recovery of the stocks is being witnessed even with the consistent and increasing fishing effort. The fish are probably responding to conservation efforts and are destined to even get better if the conservation efforts are maintained or improved.