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Researchers study links between conflict and fisheries in East Africa
Date:11/19/2012

s Lord's Resistance Armyforced nearly two million Ugandans into southern areas of the country around Lake Victoria. The research team will explore the feedbacks between this human influx and local fisheries by carefully analyzing and mapping data on everything from fishing catch and effort to unemployment rates, income levels, and the price of fish in local and international markets.

"Conflict could affect the fish catch through many different processes that will vary by country," says Glaser. "The number one thing is that if you have a war, you're probably not that concerned with reporting your catch, because it becomes very unimportant. Villagers might also leave fisheries due to safety concerns, or to join insurgent movements. During the Sri Lankan civil war, a lot of the recruiting by guerilla organizations went on in fishing villages, where work can be sporadic and unemployment high. So there could be a real decline in fishing effort, as well as a decline in data reporting.

Another issue, she says, is that regional conflict might have fueled demand for a native minnow called mukene, which can be dried into jerky to feed both insurgents in the field and those fleeing the fighting. Anecdotal evidence suggests that this demand has driven up mukene prices in local markets, making it more difficult for villagers to buy this traditional source of protein.

In an interesting twist, mukene populations have themselves grown in the lake during the last few decades due to the introduction of Nile perch, a non-native species that eats both catfish and cichlidstwo native species that previously competed with mukene for food. Nile perch are not eaten locally, but provide an important source of income through exports to European markets. However, recent data show that the fishery for Nile perch is in decline. Some experts fear a crash in the coming decades. Such an event would raise an entirely new set of questions.

"All kinds of complexitie
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Contact: David Malmquist
davem@vims.edu
804-684-7011
Virginia Institute of Marine Science
Source:Eurekalert  

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