The price paid to East African fishermen for their Nile Perch catches has almost halved as a result of falling demand from Europe. For the past two weeks fish processors are now paying $1.70 per kilogram, down from the previous price of $3.16. Some 80% of the annual catch of around 1 million tonnes goes to Africa, but demand in Europe has fallen off, presumably as a result of the current European financial crisis.
The export of Nile Perch caught in Lake Victoria has been contentious for a number of years. Aid agencies have campaigned against the export of fish to Europe from countries where a number of people struggle to find enough to eat. Many years ago the fish in Lake Victoria were an inexpensive source of protein for the people who lived nearby, but the high prices offered by Europeans meant that locals had to go without.
There have also been concerns about the supplies of fish being depleted by overfishing, brought on by the lucrative income from Europe. At present this appears not to be a problem, as a hydro-acoustic survey in October last year showed a fish stock biomass of 1.9 million tonnes, up from 1.6 million tonnes in August 2011. At present there are 600 tonnes of Nile Perch fillets sitting in cold storage rooms in East Africa, but no-one to buy them.