Four decades after the initial export of Nile Perch from Lake Victoria, which reached an annual maximum harvest of 330,000 tons in 2000 (LVFO, 2009), Nile Perch resources are under pressure. With a form of co-management in place, it is not clear who is responsible for resources management. The fishers claim the Governments are responsible and the Governments say that the fish export industry is responsible. Results of six years of research led the Council of Ministers of the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization in 2003 to endorse the recommendation to enforce drastic measures. When the measures came into force they were strictly adhered to, but with time, the authorities unwillingly relaxed them until draconian measures then had to be taken. Identical measures were adopted by the Council in 2009 and this resulted in the professional fish export associations rigidly maintaining one portion, while claiming that no scientific evidence existed for the other part.
The co-management system making use of Beach Management Units (BMU) is well developed on Lake Victoria, but has only been partly introduced to the shores of Lake Tanganyika, where certain management structures have existed for many years. This article discusses how the state of the optimum fish stocks could be regenerated, but notes that other external factors may also play roles (including climate change).
On Lake Tanganyika an industrial fishery was operational in the northern part of the lake from the mid-1970s to the mid-1990s, which gradually moved southwards with time and was outcompeted by the emerging artisanal fishery, whose effort is still increasing.
Whilst riparian Governments subscribe to international action plans, messages have to be put across to the fishing communities about regeneration of lake ecosystems.