Tuesday 15 June 1999

The fishing industry in Uganda is in disarray, with local authorities and the central government taking conflicting stances on the recent lifting of a ban on fish vending. Minister of state for fisheries Fred Mukisa lifted the ban, which was imposed following reports of fish poisoning in Lake Victoria, on April 23 1999. But local authorities say they will continue to enforce it as they are not sure that fish is now fit for consumption.

The Speaker for the Kampala district council, Alhajj Abdul Nsereko, said the ban was still in effect and anyone found selling fish in the city and its suburbs faces prosecution. "We cannot lift the ban until we are sure about the quality of fish. We are not concerned about the lifting of the ban by the minister because we have not yet put into effect steps to control fish poisoning," Alhajj Nsereko said. Following decentralisation, local authorities have the power to invoke by-laws, as the Kampala City Council and other local authorities did following reports that some people had died of fish poisoning.

The lack of co-ordination between local authorities and the central government has created confusion in the market, as vendors in Kampala do not know whom to listen to. "We do not know whom to follow, but the ban is affecting us," said Emmanuel Kabonge, who resumed vending as soon as the ban was lifted. Uganda has lost up to us $6 million in export earnings since the fish ban. Although the government has lifted the local ban on fish vending, the export ban imposed by the European Union ( eu ) on fish from East Africa is still in place. The fish ban was imposed on 17 March, following reports of widespread fishing with poison on Lake Victoria

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