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World Conserv. 1998;(1):11-2.

Nile perch: the great lake experiment.



In order to improve the fishery of Lake Victoria, a large predatory fish, the Nile perch (Lates niloticus), was introduced into the lake to feed on the smaller but abundant haplochromines, thereby producing a larger fish for food consumption. Originally the lake had a very high fish species diversity, dominated by more than 300 species of haplochromine cichlids; however, they were too small to be exploited for food. It took about 20 years for the population of the Nile perch in the lake to increase significantly. Although increased fish production has benefited riparian communities by providing revenue, employment, and food, the introduction of the Nile perch has also resulted in extinction and has transformed the lake ecosystem. In response to the concern caused by the introduction of the Nile perch, the deteriorating water quality, and the need to sustain the lucrative fishery, the governments of Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania have initiated the multisectoral Lake Victoria Environment Management Programme. Its goals are to control the loading of nutrients and contaminants into the lake, manage land use in the catchment area, manage the introduced fish species, conserve biodiversity, and control the spread of water hyacinths.

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