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Dirty Water Killing Fingerlings in National Fish Hatchery

The unclean water, according to Catherine Agoe, an Aquatic Animal Health Pathologist at the Aquatic Research and Development Centre, is drawn from underground, from where it comes with impurities that are not safe for fish eggs. The water lacks sufficient aeration which affects the newly hatched fish fingerlings.

Audio 3

In a classic case of inadequate planning, capability and managerial absurdity, young fish bred at the national fish hatchery at the Aquatic Research and Development Centre (ARDC) are being stunted or killed by the impurity of water which for some reason is used breeding without being cleaned.

The unclean water, according to Catherine Agoe, an Aquatic Animal Health Pathologist at the Aquatic Research and Development Centre, is drawn from underground, from where it comes with impurities that are not safe for fish eggs. The water lacks sufficient aeration which affects the newly hatched fish fingerlings.

Agoe says the water temperature wavers below 25° C and at times goes above 30° C, which the fish breeding environment does not require. The water not only has less oxygen, but it also contains metals and salts like lead, ammonia, Zinc nitrates and nitrites which are not only affecting the hatching of eggs at the aquatic hatchery but also killing the newly hatched fingerlings.

There should have been a system of tanks to drain the water, let it settle down from treatment before it is let into the hatchery and the fish breeding ponds. To make matters worse, according to the scientist, when the fish die the deadly fungus in their bodies enter the water and infects more fish. 

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In 2008, the government of Uganda constructed at an alleged cost of USD 5 million, the fish facility that includes 26 water tanks, 23 fish ponds and a fish hatchery to boost the number of fish fingerlings produced annually. But the water from the underground wells runs directly to the hatchery and the 23 fish ponds.

Upon the construction of the hatchery, according to Dr John Walakira who is a senior research scientist at the National Agriculture Research Organization (NARO), a target of 135 million fingerlings was placed on the national hatchery. But several challenges like water, diseases and weather have ruined efforts to achieve the annual target. Instead, the hatchery has produced just above 50 million fingerlings in the last five years.

The deficit in fingerlings production has affected fish breeding in Uganda, causing an unmet domestic demand of more than 270,000 metric tons. The fish breeders are also affected by not getting enough fish for their business to thrive.

Joel Emanu, an Entrepreneur of Geossy Fish farm in Wakiso district says with the deficit of fingerling supplies coupled with limited movements during the COVID 19 pandemic, some farmers decided to sell fish at a loss.

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But Dickson Lufafa, the proprietor of Lake Victoria Precious Fish farm in Mukono has no trust in the national fish hatchery in Kajjansi, Wakiso district altogether. He faults the scientists' basing on findings copied from other countries to breed fish in Uganda which makes farmers incur losses. 

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