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Date Published: NOVEMBER 2001
Author/s: P.O.J. Bwathondi, R. Ogutu-Ohwayo and J. Ogari Edited by I.G. Cowx and K. Crean
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Over 30 million people live in the Lake Victoria Basin and depend directly or indirectly on the lake’s
resources. Fisheries contribute up to 3% to the GDP of the riparian states and they are major
sources of income, food, employment and foreign exchange earning. Lake Victoria is the most
important source of fish in East Africa, as well as being the most important source of freshwater fish
on the African continent. The lake is also important in conservation terms because of the great
biodiversity of endemic fish species. Additionally, the lake an important moderator of regional
In the last three decades, the lake has been subject to the influence of a number of powerful factors
which have altered, and continue to alter, its environment. Of these changes, probably the most
telling in terms of biological, social and economic impact, has been the depletion of the
commercially-important fish species due to over-fishing. Pressure initially focussed on indigenous
species, and then turned to concentrate on the introduced tilapia and Nile perch as these grew in
commercial importance. As a result of the heavy fishing pressure and the impact of the introduced
species it is believed that about 60% of the original fish species are feared to have become extinct.

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