Lake Victoria, one of the world’s largest freshwater fisheries, supports the livelihoods of millions of East Africans. One of its greatest virtues has been its open access to all who want to fish in – and eat from – its waters.
But that is changing dramatically. The days of open access are coming to a close. Over the past year, the Ugandan army has intervened in the struggling fishery by burning boats and fishing gear. Up to 40 percent of all boats in Ugandan waters have been destroyed, estimates Dr. Anthony Munyaho, Director of the National Fisheries Resources Research Institute (NaFIRRI). The crackdown escalated in recent weeks with no warning to the fishing communities affected. Reports of brutal beatings – and even killings – are surfacing.