Tilapia fish face a brighter future in Koome Islands, Uganda

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Conservationist, William Isebaidu, has been in contact from Uganda to report on his work at Koome Island on Lake Victoria. William and his team, from wildlife organisation Hope for Nature, are working hard to restore the fortunes of Singida tilapia fish, which were historically harvested in the lake. Over fishing and illegal fishing practices have both played in part in the decline of Singida – known locally as empongo.

William also blames predation by the larger, invasive Nile perch, pollution and environmental degradation. In the last twenty years, he estimates that numbers have dropped by 80%. Now the Hope for Nature members are determined to increase tilapia numbers before the species is lost forever.

New fishing rules in conservation zones

Last year the team constructed breeding facilities, small ponds away from the dangers of the lake. Here they were able to breed the young tilapia in safety. Meanwhile, Josephine Namanda, a specialist in fish breeding, says they’ve been busy working with local residents who have agreed to avoid fishing from six conservation zones that have been created in different parts of Koome sub-county. These shallower waters offer protection from larger predatory fish and – with locals agreeing to not fish in these areas – they offer a real haven for the tilapia to breed and recover their numbers.

Releasing fingerlings

William says Hope for Nature will restock these conservation zones within the lake with 40,000 fingerlings over the course of two years, in collaboration with Mukono district local government and PTES. At the end of 2020, William contacted us to report that they’d just released 5000 fingerlings (baby fish) into the wild. His Hope for Nature colleague, George, holds a mouth-brooding fish up for the camera here. The male fish care for the young in their mouths like this, it’s a sort of incubation.

Hope for Nature members were delighted to be joined at the launch by Romulus Mulambi the Head of Fisheries Department Mukono District, Mrs Harriet Luzira the Senior Assistant Chief Administrative Officer of Koome Islands Local Government, George Lukanze the Chairman Kibanga Village Local Council and Siraj Luyombya the Head of Koome Voluntary Community Based Fish Conservation Committees. Esther Nakayiba Chairperson Hope for Nature was also present, along with the Hope for Nature technical team, and local fishermen.

Mr Mulambi has great confidence in Hope for Nature, which he says is doing a good job, and he is optimistic that the Singida fish population recovery will be realized in the coming years. We support Mr Mulambi’s optimism and hope that the fingerlings flourish and that numbers of wild tilapia will increase rapidly.

Learn more about how we’re working with William and his team to protect the Tilapia fish in Uganda:

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