A tonne of Nile Perch costs between Shs10m and 15m on the local market depending on the size of the fish. PHOTO/COURTESY

A cross section of Ugandans has condemned a proposal to ban the local consumption of Nile Perch and only reserve it for export.

The proposal was made to Parliament by Uganda Fish Processors and Exporters Association this week.

The exporters are arguing that the law should ban the local consumption of the species, which is native to River Nile and Lake Albert in Uganda, as a measure to protect the Nile perch which is currently threatened by illegal fishing methods.

The Agriculture Committee of Parliament is currently considering the Fisheries and Aquaculture Bill, 2021. The Bill seeks to consolidate and reform the law relating to the management of fisheries products and aquaculture due to emerging issues in the regulation and management of the sector.

But Ugandans have described the move as selfish.

Hillary Bamulinde tweeted: “So, some investors have called on parliament to ban local sale and consumption of Nile Perch and reserve it for export only. OK, it’s really bad being poor. You can be abused even in your own bedroom, coz, what’s this?”

Sarah Biryomumaisho added: “If we stop local consumption of Nile Perch, muntu wabulijjo will suffer. There’s someone interested in the lucrative swim bladder business. They will take the fish, remove the swim bladders, export them & throw away the fish. There’s enough fish for locals & export.”

Onyigi Dennis Wabwire posted: “But why put a ban on local consumption of the Nile perch when the government loose Shs20 trillion in corruption every year?”

Allan Ssenyonga: “The fish mafia in Uganda are now pushing for a law that bans you from eating Nile Perch. They want it to just be for export. Don’t ask me who benefits from the export of Nile Perch, I am not feeling well.”

Under Fisheries and Aquaculture Bill, 2021, persons who catch undersized fish face a jail sentence of seven years or a fine of 200 million Shillings, as one of the measures to address destructive fishing practices, illicit fish trade, and invasion of water bodies by aquatic weeds.

Similarly, those convicted of using explosives, firearms or any device capable of producing poison to catch fish will be imprisoned for eight years without an option of a fine.