(Gazette, Jan. 23, 1997)
Gazette readers told us, when surveyed in 1995, that they wanted to read more about how faculty, staff and students at Memorial are involved in exchanges, research linkages, development projects and training programs in other parts of the world. In this issue we introduce a new monthly section where readers will find profiles of interesting international projects. In Passport, readers will find out how Memorial University is active in the promotion of education, research and community service beyond Newfoundland and Canada. We welcome submissions for this section, whether a couple of paragraphs describing an international experience, or a longer, first-person account (maximum 500 words). Write to Gazette, Room AA-1024, Arts and Administration Building, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's; fax 709-737-8699; e-mail email@example.com. We prefer to receive your submissions via e-mail, or on a disk in WordPerfect format. Photographs, accompanied by descriptions, are especially welcome.
Last fall, these images highlighted for me the conundrum of modern development issues and were formed during a spell working on aquaculture extension projects through Memorial's linkage to Moi University in western Kenya. Kisumu is one of the main fishing centres on Lake Victoria, Africa's largest freshwater lake. Bordered by Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, the fisheries of the lake have undergone dramatic changes over the past 20 years. Introductions of exotic species, eutrophication and over-exploitation of stocks have changed the fishery from a multi-species fishery dominated by native cichlids, to a fishery largely based on two introduced species -- the Nile perch and the Nile tilapia -- and the small native pelagic, Rastrineobola.
While the future of the lake's fish stocks remains uncertain, the availability of a massive new resource has done little to benefit the millions of people living along its shores. The issues are complex and centre on the imbalance this new species has created in the operation of the fishery.
While some new employment in processing has been created, it is at the plants that the disparities of the system become shockingly apparent. At one heavily-guarded processing plant I visited, many hundreds of men, women and children worked under appalling conditions on the adjoining land, sorting through the discarded filleting waste. Scores of fires were burning to smoke any remnants of fish, while small fish pieces and bones were cooked in vats of oil previously rendered from the fish offal. This was the response of one desperate community whose inhabitants witness daily the misappropriation of one of the world's great fishery resources.
The future of the fishery is uncertain, although a stock collapse has long been predicted given the population strength of a major predatory species. In the meantime, traditional patterns of fishing and fish distribution have changed radically, and fewer, more expensive fish are available to feed a rapidly growing population.
Many of the issues in the Lake Victoria fishery are familiar elsewhere in the world, including Newfoundland. The problems of fish resource management are not new but still present an apparently insoluble challenge.
The lines of the proverb, "give a person a fish and you feed that person for one day; teach someone to fish and you feed that person for a lifetime" ring hollow around Lake Victoria. I drove from the lake and headed for Eldoret and colleagues at Moi University with a renewed passion for our planned activities in sustainable aquaculture. Show a person how to farm fish...maybe!