The decline of Alestes baremose Boulenger, 1901 and Hydrocynus forskahlii (Cuvier, 1819) stocks in Lake Albert: Implications for sustainable management of their fisheries
The fish stocks of Lake Albert face immense exploitation pressure which has led to “fishingdown” of their fisheries, with some larger species having been driven to near-extinction, while others such as Citharinus citharus have almost disappeared. Both A. baremose (Angara) and H. forskahlii (Ngassia) historically formed the most important commercial species in Lake Albert until the early 2000s but recent Catch Assessment Surveys (2007-2013) revealed a sweeping decline in their contribution to the commercial catch from 72.7% in 1971 to less than 6% in 2013. The catch per unit effort also registered a two-fold decline from 45.6 and 36.1 kg/boat/day to 22.6 and 18.1 kg/boat/day for A. baremose and H. forskahlii respective between 1971 and 2007. Over 50% of illegal gillnets, below the legal minimum limit of four inches (101.6 mm) used on Lake Albert target the two species. Gillnet experiments found the three inch (76.2 mm) gill net mesh size suitable for sustained harvest of the two species. The study concludes that optimal utilization of the two species and probably other non target fish species is achievable through species specific management strategies, coupling species specific licensing, and controlling harvest of juvenile individuals, overall fishing effort and fish catch on Lake Albert and protecting the vulnerable fish habitats.
Key words: Albert Nile, ecosystem approach to fisheries, native species, recruitment overfishing,