Lake Victoria is home to two famous fishes. The Nile perch was illicitly introduced in the 1980s—rumor has it a bucket of the fish was dumped secretly into the waters in Uganda—and has since become one of the major export earners for Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania. This giant fish played a prominent role in a controversial French documentary (Darwin’s Nightmare) that alleged fish were leaving Tanzania on airplanes that brought guns into East Africa. Nile tilapia, also introduced to the lake, is farmed around the world and is well-known to diners from Applebee’s to fine dining establishments.
But the most important fish in Lake Victoria is neither the Nile perch nor the Nile tilapia. The tiny silver dagaa is now the most caught fish in Lake Victoria each year. The vast majority of dagaa remains in East Africa, supporting local livelihoods and nutrition. I traveled around Lake Victoria to learn more about this little fish with a big profile.