The Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization is a regional organization under the East African Community responsible for coordinating and managing fisheries and Aquaculture resources of the East African Community. The organization was formed through a Convention signed in 1994 by the three East African Community (EAC) Partner States of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania and has since been revised to accommodate all partner states of the EAC.
The objective of the LVFO is to foster cooperation among the Partner States by harmonizing national measures, developing and adopting conservation and management measures for the sustainable utilization of living resources of Lake Victoria for maximum Socio-economic Benefits.
The functions of the LVFO
Promote the proper management and optimum utilisation of fisheries and other resources of the lake;
Enhance the capacity of existing fisheries institutions;
Provide a forum for discussion of the impacts of initiatives on the lake;
Provide for the conduct of research on the living resources of the lake and its environment;
Coordinate and undertake training and extension in all aspects of fisheries;
Consider and advise on the impact of introductions of non-indigenous organisms into the Lake Victoria;
Serve as a clearinghouse and a data bank for information on the fisheries of the lake; and
Promote the dissemination of information.
The Institutional Structure of LVFO
The main organs of the LVFO are the Council of Ministers; Policy Steering Committee, Executive Committee, Fisheries Management Committee, Scientific Committee, Working Groups and, Beach Management Units and the Secretariat.
The Strategic Vision of LVFO
The operations of the LVFO are guided by the LVFO Strategic Vision which aims at having:
“A common System/Resource Management Among Contracting Parties in Matters Regarding Lake Victoria with the Goal of Restoring and Maintaining the Health of the Ecosystem and Assuring Sustainable Development to the Benefit of the Present and Future Generations”, by harmonising activities towards:
A Healthy Lake Victoria Ecosystem and Sustainable Resources;
Integrated Fisheries Management;
Coordinated Research Programs;
Information Generation, Flow and Exchange; and
The Strategic Vision document spells out the goals of the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organisation and describes the focus, intent and direction of the LVFO programmes through the year 2015. The LVFO strategy embraces the ecosystem approach to management, research and development of the Lake Victoria resources. It acknowledges the collective responsibility of member states towards the lake and need for joint decision making and action. The Strategy also embraces the concept of common systems/resource management, which involves the interplay of various stakeholders in the management of the Lake Victoria Resource. [Link to the LVFO Strategic Vision (1999 – 2015)].
Relationship with the EAC
As a specialised and autonomous institution of the EAC, the programs and activities of the LVFO are in line with the Vision and Strategy Framework for the Management of the Lake Victoria Basin developed by the EAC in 2003, and The Protocol for Sustainable Development of Lake Victoria. The operations of the LVFO are also guided by the Administrative Principles embedded in the EAC Treaty especially Article 7 which spells out:
The principle of subsidiarity whereby decisions are proposed at national level, harmonized and agreed upon at regional level and implemented at national level.
The principle of Variable Geometry where the partner states may move at different rates; and
The principle of Asymmetry whereby the Partner states aim at achieving the same levels of development
The activities of the LVFO are implemented through five programs and the different functions under each program are implemented by Working Groups. The functions of the different programs are outlined below:
Resource, Environmental, and Socio-economics Research and Monitoring Program
This program provides information on
Fisheries - Catch composition, fishing effort and fishing gears and methods;
Fish stocks - Biomass, composition, distribution and population structure of fish stock;
The biological and ecological parameters of the fishes, lake productivity processes, and the health of the fish habitat; and
Fisheries socio-economics and marketing.
The Fisheries Management Program
Develops institutions including promoting community participation in development and management of the fisheries resources;
Develops, harmonizes and enforces fisheries policies, laws, regulations;
Adopts relevant international protocols and agreements to the Lake Victoria situation;
Promotes compliance to fish quality and safety standards and enhances value addition; and
Monitors and evaluated activities at different levels of fisheries governance.
The Database, Information, Communication and Outreach Program
Develops and manages fisheries databases; and
Re-packages and disseminate information to policy makers and resources users.
The Aquaculture Research and Development Program
Aquaculture was originally not within the mandate of the LVFO. However, following recognition that there was high demand for fish for export and local consumption, the LVFO Council of Ministers at their regular session in Nairobi in 2000 directed the LVFO Secretariat to develop aquaculture in the Lake Victoria Basin to supplement wild fish stocks. The Aquaculture Research and Development Program was, therefore, formed to develop and provide guidelines on aquaculture development in the Lake Victoria Basin.
Human Resources and Infrastructure Capacity Building Program
Assesses human resources needs and develops human resources capacity for development and management of fisheries resources; and
Assesses and develops fisheries infrastructure.
The programs of the LVFO are implemented through projects designed to address one or more thematic areas of the programs. The current projects include:
The Implementation of a Fisheries Management Plan (IFMP) Project for Lake Victoria funded through a grant worth €29 million Euro from The European Union.
The Socio-economics of the Nile Perch Fishery on Lake Victoria Project Phase II, funded by NORAD through IUCN
The Production and Marketing of Value-added Fishery products in Eastern and Southern Africa Phase I, funded by the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC) through FAO and COMESA.
Support to the Aquaculture Sub sector in the riparian countries around Lake Victoria – TCP/RAF/3102 (A), funded by FAO/TCP.
The LVFO is committed to developing and maintaining effective working relationships with other agencies, institutions, and individuals involved with the Lake Victoria. The LVFO collaborates with international and regional, governments, private sector, NGOs, CBOs and projects working on fisheries on Lake Victoria. The partnerships and collaborations aim at ensuring a healthy ecosystem and sustainable fisheries resource utilization and socio-economic development of the Lake Basin communities.
The programs and activities of the LVFO are funded by Partner States and Development Partners. The Development Partners currently supporting LVFO are: The European Union, NORAD, Common Fund for Commodities (CFC) and FAO.