The Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization (LVFO) is a specialized institution of the East African Community (EAC) whose mandate is to coordinate the management and development of fisheries and aquaculture resources in the EAC region.
The LVFO was established by a Convention in 1994 and registered as a regional fisheries management organization under the UN Charter of the Food and Agriculture Organization (CAP 102). The idea of having an institution to coordinate the management of fisheries resources in the EAC region was conceived way back in 1928 and centered on the riparian states of Lake Victoria (Kenya, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania). This idea gave rise to the establishment of the Lake Victoria Fisheries Service and later the East African Fresh Water Fisheries Research Organization from 1947 until 1977 when the old East African Community collapsed. The FAO sub-Committee of Inland Fisheries and Aquaculture then took over the coordination of the Lake Victoria fisheries, leading to the formation of the LVFO in 1994.
The Convention establishing the LVFO was reviewed in 2016, and expanded the scope and mandate of the organization to include Burundi and Rwanda to the original three countries; extended its focus beyond Lake Victoria into covering all water bodies in the EAC region; and gave aquaculture more prominence as a priority area of focus in addition to capture fisheries.
“A Competitive and Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture Industry in the East African Community”.
Mission is “To promote Sustainable Management and Development of Fisheries and aquaculture in the East African Community for Food Security and Wealth creation”.
The Objectives of LVFO is to foster co-operation among the Partner States, harmonise national measures for the sustainable utilisation of the fisheries and aquaculture resources of the East African Community water bodies, and to develop and adopt conservation and management measures.
Structure of LVFO
The composition of the LVFO is made of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Management and Research Institutions of Partner States, Beach Management Units, and Associations of Fish Processors and Exporters who are coordinated by a Secretariat based in Jinja, Uganda. Beach Management Unit are organizations of fishers, fish traders, boat owners, fish processors and other beach stakeholders who have traditionally depended on beach fisheries activities for their livelihood.
Some key achievements and milestones
Over the course of 16 years since its establishment, the LVFO has been able to make some significant milestones include:
1. Establishing a vibrant Secretariat in Jinja, Uganda, that has enhanced the cooperation of Partner States for the effective utilization and management of fisheries and aquaculture resources in the EAC region. The Secretariat has, among others:
Ø Facilitated the harmonization of policies, regulations, standards and guidelines; supported capacity strengthening of key stakeholders in fisheries and aquaculture management; and provided technical support to stakeholders;
Ø Provided a forum for coordination, interaction and experience sharing among Partner States and other stakeholders around fisheries and aquaculture development.
2. Formation of community based structures for the management and sustainable use of fisheries and aquaculture resources. This consists of 1,069 Beach Management Units, three national Fish Processors and Exporters Associations and thematic working groups which also participate in the planning and decision making process of the organization, thereby enhancing ownership and sustainability.
3. Developed an effective mechanism for quality assurance of the export of fish and fishery products that has guaranteed uninterrupted access to international markets in over 24 countries over the past 16 years. This has resulted in increased exports from USD 51 millions in 1994 to USD 340 million by 2014.
4. LVFO has established itself as an authority and repository for scientific knowledge and information on fisheries and aquaculture for the EAC region through its network of research institutions at Partner States. LVFO is able to conduct annual census, surveys and studies to support science-based planning and decision making.