Authored by Evans A.K. Miriti

This project contributes to the Theme on Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture Management in the African Great Lakes Region (AGLR) and the intervention on cage aquaculture which among the priority interventions identified during the African Great Lakes Conference (AGLC) of 5-7th May 2017 that was supported under the African Great Lakes Conservation Fund (AGLF). The AGLC noted that cage aquaculture was increasing rapidly in the AGLR and had potential to increase fish production and contribute to SDG 1 and 2 - ending poverty and hunger; 3 - healthy lives and well-being; 6 - clean water and sanitation; 14 - Life below water, and; 17- Partnerships. However, cage aquaculture can degrade water quality, interfere with other lake uses, and cause conflicts with other lake uses and needed to be practiced in a socially, economically and environmentally sustainable manner. The project was, therefore designed to establish cross-basin collaboration, develop and share information in best management practices (BMP) in cage aquaculture in the AGLR.

The project: Established an African Great Lakes Cage Aquaculture Network (AGL-CAN); Mobilized information and data and developed harmonized BMP that can be applied across AGLR; and Shared the information on BMP. The project observed that cage aquaculture was spreading fast in Africa with highest concentration in the AGLR especially on Lakes Victoria and Kivu. AGL-CAN was established across five of the seven AGL lakes (Malawi, Kivu, Victoria, Edward, Albert), Six of the eleven countries of AGLR (Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Burundi), and seven national institutions from six countries of the AGLR.

BMP in cage aquaculture require: Seeking guidance of technical staff; Selecting a suitable and capable site with good environmental conditions for fish growth; Zoning the site to separate the farm from other lake uses; Laying out the cages properly to expose the farm to ideal environmental conditions; Providing security at the farm to avoid escape of fish into the lake and vandalism; Managing farm wastes to avoid contamination of the host water body; Culturing native species to avoid introductions; Using nutritionally complete nutritious feeds to promote good growth; Monitoring fish growth and health; Monitoring water quality at the cage site; Identifying the market before harvesting as large quantities of fish are harvested at once; and Disposing cages and associated farm materials properly at end of operation. The BMPs were translated into outreach materials including a mobile application covering the main steps in cage aquaculture “NARO cage aquaculture” which can be accessed free of charge on Google Play Store using smart phones running on android application. A paper on BMP was published in the Journal of Great Lakes Research.

The key impacts of the project were: Establishment of cross basin collaboration in cage aquaculture; Provision of BMPs to guide policy and practice in cage aquaculture, and; Increased contribution of cage aquaculture to fish production, employment, income and nutrition.