The fisheries of Lake Victoria have always been dynamic and the relevant authorities have continually tried to manage them. During the second half of the last century, numerous changes took place and fisheries managers had to cope with influences other than exploitation, including species introductions, invasive weeds, lake level rise, changes in water quality, and illegal fishing practices. These have influenced the way the fisheries have been managed.
In the 1920s, measures existed to manage the fisheries of Lake Victoria. In those days, a minimum net mesh size of one inch was in place, as well as certain restrictions for trawling and other fishing methods. Over the years, certain fishing gears and methods have been banned; some bans were lifted and then reimposed; minimum mesh sizes have shifted as a result of changing species compositions and changing needs to protect components of the stock. More recently, the fishery has been subjected to a series of bans on export to the European Union because of outbreaks of cholera and fish poisoning practices.
This article presents an overview of fisheries management on Lake Victoria, the successes and failures, impacts of fish exploitation and invasive weeds on species diversity, results of a major research project on the lake to assess the status of the fisheries, and the way forward.