By Calvin Wembabazi & Catherine Tusemerirwe
Daily changing weather patterns have been cited as among factors determining the amount of fish caught at Lake Albert in Hoima District, mid-western Uganda.
Mr Simon Aliinda, a fish vendor at Kiryateete market in Hoima city, says during dry conditions, fishers experience low catches and the reverse is true. This fluctuation in catches brings forth fluctuation in the price of fish depending on the market demand and supply.
He says with the current wet weather, there is plenty of fish with a kilogramme of either Nile Perch or tilapia going at Shs10,000 at lake price contrary to dry weather when it sold at Shs12,000 at lake price due to low supply and the consequent high demand.
Due to the wet weather, the current market price at Kiryateete for fresh fish stands at Shs12,000 per kilo while previously during the dry weather it went at Shs15,000.
Mr Aliinda adds that sometimes fish vendors are overwhelmed by the high demand for fish consumption with the low supply depending on the prevailing weather conditions.
Besides weather determining the catch and sales, Mr Alinda says exportation of fish to other parts of Uganda creates its scarcity in Hoima meaning inadequate supply for the home market, thus, causing the price to shoot up due to high demand.
He also says ever since the Fisheries Protection Unit (FPU) of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces began its operations on Ugandan lakes, fish catch reduced compared to the past when fishers were not restricted in their activity.
The FPU prohibits fishers from using fish gears that catch fish indiscriminately including the under size ones.
Ms Rosemary Tibenda, a fishmonger at Kiganda 2 cell in East Division, Hoima city, says whenever it is wet season, fish catch is high leading to a surplus in the market, low profits reaped and relatively low business.
However, she says to avoid incurring losses due to their perishability, vendors resort to deep-frying the fish as a means of preservation to enable it to be stored for a longer time contrary to when it is fresh.
Such a parameter has both positive and negative impacts on all market players including fishers, fishmongers and final consumers imposing a financial implication on the parties involved.
Mr Yakobo Muliimba, a fisherman at Kiryamboga fishing village in Toonya parish, Buseruka sub-county in Hoima district says ” during rainy conditions the water is not favourable for the fish to swim and become less active. Therefore, the fish are less likely to be found wading through undergrowth and will have less energy to be active.”