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Better health and education thanks to sustainable wild fishery

Naturland certification of fishery on Lake Victoria in Tanzania, East Africa, brings a higher quality of life to many locals.

It looks like the open sea, but it is the second largest freshwater lake in the world: Lake Victoria. As Africa's largest lake, it borders three countries: Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. The latter is the home of Naturland advisor Anne Hessenland. For in addition to the topics of coffee and agroforestry in Burundi, she is also the contact person for Naturland-certified fishing of the Victoria perch in East Africa.

This pioneering project was born in 2008, when local traders and companies at Lake Victoria were looking for a certifier who would not only take responsibility for sustainable fishing but also for social commitment. Thus, about 13 years ago, this project at Lake Victoria came into being with today's GIZ, ANOVA (importer), Vicfish Ltd (today Supreme Perch) and Naturland, in the course of which the organic association developed the guidelines for sustainable fishing that are still valid today.

"With the certification of some fisheries in Tanzania, Naturland has made a lot of difference here with hard work and brought more quality of life to the local people."

After all, sustainability does not only mean securing the fish stock, but also supporting the people in this region. "Almost 40 percent of the fisheries on Lake Victoria in Tanzania bear the Naturland seal," says Anne Hessenland: "But the social commitment reaches the whole region here." Naturland Wild Fish certification contributes to a higher quality of life in the fishing communities and the whole region. In addition to clean drinking water for all and the availability of life jackets for the boatmen, the fishermen's wives are supported in accessing gainful employment, such as tailoring. In addition, investments are made in education. Access to a school must be ensured for every child within a radius of 5 kilometres. Adults are educated about water quality and new wells are dug. A mobile clinic also regularly provides the people on the fishing islands with medical aid, vaccinations and all kinds of wound care.

"Climate change is already being felt. The air is getting warmer, the fish are swimming in deeper areas. This makes fishing more difficult and reduces the quantities - thus increasing the price."

Fishing according to Naturland standards helps the fishermen at Lake Victoria to have a better quality of life. Source: Naturland

To protect the fish stocks and the entire ecosystem on site, regular water samples are taken and evaluated. The fishermen work with special set nets and hooks that guarantee that no perch too young (under 50 cm in size) are caught, smaller ones escaping again through the large mesh sizes of the nets.

On land, the fishermen are present when their catch is measured with calibrated scales and they are paid fairly for it. This long-term relationship with the buyers, the certified companies, guarantees the fishermen not only a fair but also regular income. Further processing is carried out hygienically and under strictly controlled guidelines.

"I can understand that consumers (still) lack confidence in this African product Victoria perch. We are all ready to answer questions."

"Unfortunately, there are still many fishermen who work with illegal fishing methods. Uganda and Kenya are interested in sustainable fishing, but the market for it is not there," says the mother of two. "All the more important that consumers look carefully at what they buy. Because here I can see every day the difference we as Europeans can make even in more distant countries by buying food consciously."

The processing is carried out hygienically and under strictly controlled specifications. Source: Naturland

Thanks to calibrated scales, the fishermen get a fair payment for their catch. Source: Naturland

This text is a translation. No guarantee can be given for the correctness.

Further information

Naturland standards for sustainable fishery can be found here

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