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Low Oxgyen Killed Nile Perch in Uganda's Water Bodies - MAAIF

According to Pius Wakabi, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), the reduction of oxygen levels in the waters of Lakes Victoria, Kyoga and River Nile were caused by heavy winds and decomposition of sunken plant matter in the waters which reduced oxygen.
Courtesy photo : Dead Nile Perch on Lake Victoria

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The authorities in Uganda have confirmed the death of Nile Perch (Lates Niloticus) was due to low oxygen in water. 

According to Pius Wakabi, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), the reduction of oxygen levels in the waters of Lakes Victoria, Kyoga and River Nile was caused by heavy winds and decomposition of sunken plant matter in the waters.

 

He says the winds mixed up shallow and mid-level water, with that under the beds that contains low oxygen leading to deaths of Nile Perch fish in Uganda. 

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The research and findings were conducted at three research laboratories at the National Fisheries Resources Research Institute (NaFIRRI), Government Analytical Laboratory and the National Animal Disease Diagnostics and Epidemiology Centre (NADDEC). 

 

The findings show that between September 2020 and January 2021 the weather patterns changed due to heavy winds and rainstorms. This affected parts of the Lakes Victoria, Kyoga and River Nile in the districts of Kayunga, Nakasongola, Wakiso, Kampala and Entebbe.  

This led to mixing of water with low oxygen levels and that with high levels, but also led to the migration of floating vegetation on the water bodies, some of which rotted after drowning in the water and reducing oxygen in the water.   The low oxygen levels led to largely young Nile perch weighing between 15 to 20 kilograms dying most.  The heaviest casualty weighing 100 kilograms was found in Kayunga district.

According to preliminary investigations from the MAAIF, fish poisoning by pesticides, algae, less absorption of oxygen by the fish through the gills and other toxins have been ruled out.

Elias Muhumuza, a senior Aquatic Researcher at the NaFIRRI says Nile Perch needs at least three milligrams (3mg) of oxygen per litre of water to survive in water. The laboratory research findings 0.12 mg per litre of water from samples taken from Kasenyi, Kigungu, Bugonga landing sites and behind Wagagai flowers.  These are landing sites that witnessed most deaths of Nile Perch in Uganda.

He says Nile perch is more sensitive to oxygen unlike other fish species and that is why the fish species died most. 

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Dr. Anthony Tabu Munyaho, a Deputy Director at the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization (LVFO) says similar deaths of Nile perchhave been witnessed before in Kisumu – Kenya and Mwanza in Tanzania between 2017 and 2019.