The Fish Act (Cap.197) of 1 April 1951 is currently the main legislation managing fisheries in Uganda. The Act not being in line with recent national and international changes in fisheries management, a new Fisheries Law is in the process of being enacted but had not been passed at the time of drafting of the present document.
The main piece of legislation regulating the aquaculture sector in Uganda is the Fish (Aquaculture) Rules of 19 May 2003 (No.81 of 2003) which are subsidiary rules made under the Act. The Rules set forth the different permits that are required to engage in aquaculture, their modalities of issuance, the prescribed offences and penalties under the Rules. They specify aquaculture inspectors powers, promote responsible aquaculture activities, prescribe conditions for fish seed production, fish transfers, live fish imports and exports.
The Department of Fisheries Resources (DFR) under the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) is, to date , the competent authority responsible for inspection, certification and approval of aquaculture establishments and related practices. The overall fisheries sector management goal is to ensure increased and sustainable production and utilization of fish and fishery products by properly managing capture fisheries and promoting aquaculture.
The Department is mandated to promote, guide and support the fisheries and aquaculture public and private sector partners in sustainable development and is responsible for setting and enforcing standards and regulations for practices pertaining to fisheries and aquaculture. In all the undertakings, best practice and precautionary approach to decision-making form the foundation for rational management.
The Department services provide technical back-up related to fisheries and capacity building for Local Governments; provision of information for all stakeholder groups; creation of funding strategies for sector development; ensure sustainable resource use through good fisheries policy and ensure that there exists appropriate and equitable legal basis for sustainable fisheries and aquaculture management .
The Fish (Aquaculture) Rules provide for the DFR to work in collaboration with other bodies, such as the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), the National Drug Authority (NDA), the National Bureau of Standards (NBS) to ensure that practices in aquaculture comply with national legislation and standards.
Furthermore, the National Development Plan 2010/11-2014/15 and the Agriculture Sector Development Strategy and Investment Plan 2010/11-2014/15 refer to several objectives to improve the fisheries sector and the strategies to reach these objectives. For instance, one of the objectives is to create an enabling environment for competitive investment in agriculture, and the strategy plans to improve the capacity for quality insurance, regulation, food and safety standards for fisheries. These Plans also aim at ensuring sustainable management of environmental resources and minimize degradation through the promotion of compliance with environmental laws and regulations.
Uganda accessed to the Kyoto Protocol and ratified the Cartegena Protocol on Biosafety .
At a regional level, Uganda is a Party to the African Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources .
As aquaculture activities have developed in Lake Victoria basin and Nile River basin, arrangements have been put in place in these areas.
Concerning Lake Victoria, the three riparian States, i.e Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya, adopted the Convention for the Establishment of the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization in 1994 whose main objective is to promote the conservation and sustainable utilization of the living resources of the lake. The Organization has developed a regional strategy for aquaculture research and development in the Lake basin .
Concerning the Nile River, the Nile Basin Initiative is a partnership initiated and led by the riparian states of the Nile River through the Council of Ministers of Water Affairs of the Nile Basin states. The Initiative seeks to develop the river in a cooperative manner, share substantial socioeconomic benefits, and promote regional peace and security .
First, an aquaculture establishment certificate is required and the Chief Fisheries Officer is the authority in charge of ensuring regular monitoring and inspection of aquaculture establishments . The management of an intensive or semi-intensive production type of establishment shall, before construction or reconstruction, submit to the Chief Fisheries Officer for approval, a plan of the establishment and a list of the activities to be carried out by the establishment. An establishment shall carry out only activities for which it is approved. The Chief Fisheries Officer may refuse to approve an aquaculture establishment if the approval is not in the public interest. Any person aggrieved by the refusal of the Chief Fisheries Officer may appeal to the Minister responsible for Fisheries within thirty (30) days from the date of refusal by way of petition stating the facts and grounds for appeal . A fish breeding permit is required to engage in fish breeding . The person or establishment intending to carry out fish breeding shall apply to the Chief Fisheries Officer.
A fish seed production certificate issued by an Aquaculture Inspector is needed to produce and distribute or sell fish seed to fish farmers .
A person or establishment involved in aquaculture production shall keep records and regularly compile data in the format set out in the eleventh schedule of the Fish (Aquaculture) Rules. The compiled data shall be submitted to the Chief Fisheries Officer every end of fiscal year. The Chief Fisheries Officer may revoke approval of establishment for which the management of the establishment fails to keep and avail accurate aquaculture production records .
In 2009, the “National Land Policy- Working Draft Four- Ministry of Land, Housing and Urban Development” was prepared but was still in process of validation. Multiplicity of tenure regimes, multiple rights and interests overlapping in the same piece of land, land disputes and conflicts have rendered land management a thorny issue. The draft Land Policy seeks to re-orient the sector, promotes sustainable and productive use to achieve land development objectives . At the time of drafting of the present paper, no final Land Policy had been reached.
Concerning access to water, a Water Policy Committee was established under the 1995 Water Statute (No. 9 of 1995) . Its functions are to coordinate the preparation, implementation and amendment of the water action plan and to recommend the water action plan to the Minister responsible for water or natural resources; at the request of the Minister, to advise any other Minister who may request advice on issues of policy relevant to the investigation, use, control, protection, management or administration of water; whether on request or otherwise, to review the law relating to water and advise the Minister on any amendments that may be required for the improvement or better administration of that law .
Under the 1995 National Water and Sewerage Corporation Act (Cap. 317), the functions of the National Water and Sewerage Corporation shall be to manage the water resources in ways which are most beneficial to the people of Uganda; to provide water supply services for domestic, stock, horticultural, industrial, commercial, recreational, environmental and other beneficial uses; (ii) sewerage services, in any area in which it may be appointed to do so under this Act or the Water Act .
A water permit is required when a person who occupies or intends to occupy any land wishes to construct, own, occupy or control any works on or adjacent to the land . The interested person shall apply to the Director of Water Development. When considering such an application, the Director shall take into account several factors, such as-
Under the Statute, the Director may attach other conditions:
A person wishing to construct any works or to take and use water may apply to the Director for a permit to do so. The conditions that the Director may take into account for granting such permit are, for instance, the payment of fees or charges; the way in which land where water is used under the water permit is to be drained .
As a general rule, the Director, an authorised person or a public authority may enter and remain on land for purposes of performing functions or exercising powers conferred under the Statute and may take such measures and construct or operate works as may be necessary for the investigation, use, control, protection, management or administration of water .
Regarding aquaculture in wetlands defined as “areas permanently or seasonally flooded by water where plants and animals have become adapted; and include swamps, dambos, areas of marsh, peatland, mountain bogs, banks of rivers, vegetation, areas of impeded drainage, or blackish salt” , a specific regime was put in place by the National Environment (Wetlands, River Banks and Lake Shores Management) Regulations of 2000 (No. 3 of 2000). In this respect, whereas aquaculture is prohibited in fully protected wetlands, it is permitted in partially protected wetlands . In order to manage and conserve wetlands resources, a Technical Committee on Biodiversity Conservation was established by the 1995 National Environment Statute (Statute No. 4 of 1995) .
The Committee is responsible for advising the Board and the Executive Director of the National Environment Management Authority on the wise use, management and conservation of wetland resources. The functions of the Technical Committee include reviewing the implementation procedures for wetlands management and making the necessary recommendations to the Board and the Executive Director; reviewing and advising on the environmental impact assessments, audit and monitoring; advising on solutions to potential conflicts that might arise through competing requirements for wise use of wetland resources .
A person desiring to carry out aquaculture activities in a wetland shall make an application for a permit to carry out a regulated activity in a wetland . A developer desiring to conduct a project which may have a significant impact on a wetland shall be required to carry out an environmental impact assessment as mentioned below .
The 1995 National Environment Statute establishes the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) which is the principal agency in Uganda for the management of the environment and shall co-ordinate, monitor and supervise all activities in the field of the environment . The functions of the Authority are to ensure the integration of environmental concerns in overall national planning through co-ordination with the relevant ministries, departments and agencies of the Government; to review and approve environmental impact assessments and environmental impact statements; to promote public awareness through formal, non-formal and informal education about environmental issues and to undertake research, and disseminate information about the environment .
The Board of Directors of the Authority shall appoint a Technical Committee on Environmental Impact Assessment . The Technical Committee shall advise the Board and the Executive Director of the Authority on technical issues relating to the carrying out of environmental impact assessments. More specifically, the Technical Committee shall review and advise on the implementation procedures for EIA and make recommendations to the Board and the Executive Director; consider potential conflicts that might arise through competing requirements for environmental resources; advise on harmonization of environmental impact assessment policy with sectoral policies on natural resources and environment; advise and recommend mechanisms for ensuring effective communication of environmental concerns associated with development projects in order to promote multi-sectoral and public participation in implementation of environmental policy .
A developer of fish processing plants shall submit a project brief (which constitutes the first stage of the EIA) and submit it to the Executive Director of the NEMA who will then transmit it to the lead agency for comments. The Executive Director shall consider the project brief and the comments. “Lead agency” means any ministry, department, parastatal agency, local government system or public officer in which or whom any law vests functions of control or management of any segment of the environment .
As a first step, the project brief shall state:
On the contrary, if the Executive Director finds that the project will have significant impacts on the environment and that the project brief discloses no sufficient mitigation measures to cope with the anticipated impacts, he shall require that the developer undertakes an environmental impact study .
An environmental impact study shall be conducted in accordance with the guidelines adopted by the Authority in consultation with the lead agency.
Where the Executive Director has determined that an environmental impact study is necessary, the developer shall make an environmental impact statement on completing the study . In making an environmental impact statement, the developer shall pay attention to several issues, such as ecological considerations (biological diversity, sustainable use, ecosystem maintenance); social considerations (social cohesion or disruption, immigration or emigration, local economy); landscape (visual impacts); land uses (possibility of multiple uses) .
The environmental impact statement shall also provide a description of:
Regarding the review process of the environmental impact statement, the Executive Director shall transmit the environmental impact statement to the lead agency and request the lead agency to make comments on the statement. The lead agency shall make comments on the environmental impact statement and transmit them back to the Executive Director within thirty (30) working days of receiving the environmental impact statement. Where the lead agency fails to make comments within this period, the Executive Director may then make the decision .
As a general principle, it has to be noted that the developer shall take all measures necessary to seek the views of the people in the communities which may be affected by the project during the process of conducting the study. On the written request of the Executive Director, the lead agency shall hold a public hearing on the environmental impact statement if the Executive Director is of the opinion that a public hearing will enable him to make a fair and just decision and if he considers it necessary for the protection of the environment and the promotion of good governance . The findings and recommendations from the public hearing will be taken into account by the Executive Director in his final decision.
If the Executive Director approves the project, he shall issue a certificate of approval of environmental impact assessment . If he decides to reject the project, he shall state the reasons in writing.
The 1998 Water (Waste Discharge) Regulations (No. 32 of 1998), implementing the Statute, mention that no person shall discharge effluent or waste on land or into aquatic environment unless he or she has a waste discharge permit. A person granted such permit shall ensure that the effluent or waste discharged conforms to the maximum permissible limits established and is subject to the payment of an annual waste discharge fee. The amount of the fee may vary according to the volume, characteristics and components of waste to be discharged and is deemed to reflect the principle that the true and total costs of environmental pollution should be borne by the polluter .
May apply to the Director of Water Resources for a waste discharge permit , a person to whom a works approval has been issued; or who proposes to be:
If the Director rejects an application, he or she shall set out the reasons for rejecting the application. Any person aggrieved by the decision of the Director may appeal to the Minister of Water or Natural Resources setting out the grounds of objection. The Minister shall, within twenty-one (21) days of the receipt of the appeal, consider and determine the appeal or refer to the Water Policy Committee (established under the Water Statute) for its recommendation .
The Director may, at any time, amend the terms of, suspend the operation of, or cancel a waste discharge permit if, in his or her opinion, it is necessary to protect the environment or to prevent the pollution of any water.
It is important to note that the Regulations reckon the general obligation to mitigate pollution under which every industry, establishment or holder of a waste discharge permit shall install anti-pollution equipment for the treatment of effluent and waste discharge emanating from the industry .
An Environment Inspector designated by the National Environment Statute may, at any reasonable time, enter any premises and take samples, analyze and examine materials used in the activity for which a discharge permit was applied .
Furthermore, under the National Environment Statute of May 1995, the NEMA shall, in consultation with the lead agency, establish-
If a person or establishment intends to transfer fish within Uganda for aquaculture purposes, that person or establishment shall apply for a fish transfer permit . The applicant for the permit for transfer of live fish must provide information, such as species and strains of fish to be transferred; source and destination of fish to be transferred; intended use of fish; state of health of fish; quarantine measures and guarantees in case the species do not occur in the watershed where the fish is destined .
As a general rule, the Chief Fisheries Officer may refuse to give permission for transfer of any fish if the fish to be transferred presents a danger of genetic contamination, or a danger of degradation, or a danger of loss of native species or change in species composition .
Under the Act, the definition of “animals means all stock, camels and other ruminating animals, cats and dogs, but does not include any other animal, except such as may be declared by the Minister by statutory instrument to be included in the term “animals” for the purposes of this Act” .
However, any statutory instrument specifically including fish” and referring to fish diseases could be found but the Agriculture Sector Development Strategy and Investment Plan 2010/11-2014/15 refers to the control of diseases and vectors in the fisheries sub-sector.
“No person shall import into or sell in Uganda any agricultural chemical unless that chemical has been registered, packed and labelled in accordance with regulations made under this Act and conforms to the standards specified in the regulations. No person shall export or reexport out of Uganda an agricultural chemical unless he or she has complied with the requirements specified in the regulations made under this Act” .
An Agricultural Chemicals Board is established by the Act whose functions, inter alia, consist in ensuring that agricultural chemicals are duly registered and that those agricultural chemicals are used in a manner consistent with the labelling and in conformity with the regulations made under this Act; regulating the quality and importation of agricultural chemicals into the country and their distribution .
Regarding the use of drugs, the National Drug Policy and Authority Act (Cap.206) of 1993 established the National Drug Authority . The drug authority shall be in charge of the implementation of the national drug policy and, in particular, shall control the importation, exportation and sale of pharmaceuticals; control the quality of drugs. It is the competent authority for the authorization of importation, manufacture, use and destruction of all drugs, vaccines and biological products in Uganda. The DRF as the lead agency for aquaculture development works with the National Drug Authority in regulating use of chemicals in aquaculture establishments.
The 2002 National Veterinary Drug Policy covers:
In this respect, the Fish (Aquaculture) Rules require any person or establishment intending to engage in production for sale and distribution or importation of inputs including aquaculture fertilizers, hormones, antibiotics and others for aquaculture use to certify their products with the Department responsible for Fisheries Resources and Aquaculture .
The Fish (Aquaculture) Rules provide specific requirements for fish seeds producing establishment. In this regard, a fish seed production certificate issued by an Aquaculture Inspector is needed to produce and distribute or sell fish seed to fish farmers. When applying for the certification, the applicant has to mention the name and location of establishment, the type of fish seed to be produced and sold, the species of fish, the type of other inputs (feed, drugs, chemicals) .
The Act proscribes the use of any ingredient in the preparation of food sold for human consumption that would render the food injurious to human health and prohibits false labelling or advertisement of food .
Any person who sells, or offers or exposes for sale, or has in his or her possession for the purpose of sale, or of preparation for sale; or deposits with or consigns to any person for the purpose of sale or of preparation for sale, any food intended for, but unfit for, human consumption, commits an offence . An authorized officer may at all reasonable times examine any food intended for human consumption which has been sold, or is offered or exposed for sale or is in the possession of, or has been deposited with or consigned to, any person for the purpose of sale or of preparation for sale, and if it appears to him or her to be unfit for human consumption, may seize it and remove it in order to have it dealt with by a magistrate . Lastly, food in transit in Uganda may be examined by an authorized officer who means a person authorized by the Minister of Health or a local authority with the approval of the Minister.
The Food Hygiene Advisory Committee is established under the Act to advise the Minister on any questions relating to the Act that the minister may refer to it for its consideration. The Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) Act (Cap. 327) of 1983 is of relevance to food safety in that it establishes the UNBS under the general supervision of the Minister responsible for Commerce. The functions of the UNBS include the formulation of national standards and specifications for commodities, including food, as well as standards enforcement to protect consumers against harmful ingredients and dangerous components of commodities. For instance, Uganda Standard FDUS 814 prescribes requirements for fish feeds and FDUS EAS 97 prescribes requirements for fishmeal for use in compounding livestock feeds.
The Public Health Act (Cap.281) of 1935 is relevant as well given that the Act provides rules relative to, among other things, the prevention and suppression of diseases of which animal diseases, construction and regulation of buildings used for the storage of foodstuffs, the handling of food by diseased persons. The Acts establishes the powers of medical officer of health to inspect premises and persons.
More recently, the Fish (Quality Assurance) Rules of 1998 outline the authority of fish inspectors, describe the sanitary certification process, and stipulate the hygienic conditions, including HACCP, that must be in place at landing sites, during transport, and processing. The Manual of Standard Operating Procedures for Fish Inspection and Quality Assurance serves as a guide for inspectors in verifying the quality and safety of fish and fish products whereas the 2006 Manual of Standard Operating Procedures for Inspection of Aquaculture Establishments and Aquaculture Production Practices (Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries- Department of Fisheries Resources) mentions that all persons and establishments engaged in commercial aquaculture have to demonstrate a system that allows for traceability of farmed products generated out of their production practices as demanded by the respective markets targeted, and their products must be traceable from the processing and/or marketing points.
At the time of drafting the current NALO, many legislations in Uganda were under review process.
Fish (Amendment) Bill (4 May 2010)
The Fish (Aquaculture) Rules (No.81 of 2003) (19 May 2003)
National Environment (Standards for Discharge of Effluent into Water or on Land) Regulations (S.I. No. 4 of 1999) (12 February 1999)
National Environment (Wetlands, River Banks and Lake Shores Management) Regulations (No. 3 of 2000) (23 December 2000)
National Drug Policy and Authority Act (Cap.206) (1993)
Manual of Standard Operating Procedures for Inspection of Aquaculture Establishments and Aquaculture Production Practices, Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries- Department of Fisheries Resources, June 2006