EAST AFRICA

 
Published: Saturday 04 July 2015

The European Union ( eu ) has banned fish imports from Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. The decision was taken after reports that Uganda had restricted the sale of fresh fish products from Lake Victoria, the world's second largest freshwater lake that borders the three East African countries. Fisherfolk in the lakes have often been blamed for using insecticides like Thiodan and Daiznon, or even explosives, to catch fish. The Tanzanian minister for natural resources and tourism, Zakia Meghji, however, said pollution of fish products in the lake area on Tanzania's side has been controlled after the defence force, the police and her ministry launched a joint operation against illegal fishing practices.

Tanzania is confident that its fish is fit for human consumption. "We are ready for further tests by the eu," she said. She said fish samples sent to the eu headquaters in Brussels for tests had proved to be poison free.

Harko Bhagat, chairperson of the Lake Victoria Fish Processing Association, said Tanzania takes the issue of contamination of its fish very seriously. According to him, Tanzania's fish processing plants have carried out extensive training among fish collection supervisory staff. Earlier, the Kenyan government had prohibited night fishing in the lake in an effort to stamp out fish poisoning under the cover of darkness.

This is the second time eu has imposed a ban on fish imports from East African countries in the past two years. In January 1998, the eu froze imports of fresh fish fillets from the three countries following an outbreak of cholera in East Africa. The ban, which cost the three countries millions of us dollars, was not lifted for six months.

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