Sardine to the rescue of the Rwandan fishery

The stake: to increase fishing catches, thanks to the successful introduction of sardines in two lakes in the country.
Now one of the lowest in sub-Saharan Africa, Rwandan fish production could increase significantly with the introduction of sardines in the twin lakes of Burera and Ruhondo, located in the north of the country.

Previously fished only in Lake Kivu, sardine is now also present in the twin lakes of Burera and Ruhondo, two bodies of water located not far from the Rwandan town of Musanze in the north of the country. A timely appearance made possible by the recent introduction of the species - locally known as isambaza - in both lakes and which could very quickly increase significantly the country’s total recorded fish catch (31,465 tonnes caught in 2019). Quoted in the 27 May edition of the Kigali daily New Times, Solange Uwituze, Deputy Director General of Animal Research and Technology Transfer at the Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board, said that sardine catches in lakes Burera and Ruhondo, which will begin in June, could theoretically provide up to 500 tonnes per week, if the species adapts well. This is an order of magnitude higher than the catch volumes from Lake Kivu (between 300 and 500 tonnes per week). « The expected production of the twin lakes will depend on the adaptability of the sardines. If their adaptive capacity is similar to that of Lake Kivu, they should provide more than 500 tonnes in the high season each week, » predicted the Rwandan official, who added that samples taken between 19 and 23 May seemed to indicate « steady growth and real adaptation of the sardine in both lakes ».

The additional sardine supply expected from lakes Burera and Ruhondo will in any case help to make up part of Rwanda’s recurrent deficit in fish resources: the country, despite being one of the lowest consumers of fish in the world (2.3 kilos per person per year compared to the world average of 16.6 kilos), has to import more than 15,000 tons of fish each year. However, Solange Uwituze is cautious, saying that the success of the operation « will only be possible when the fishermen respect the regulations », a very clear allusion to overfishing, which is regularly denounced by the country’s authorities. Let’s hear it…

The location of Burera Lake, one of the twin lakes where the sardine was recently introduced.

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