New funding to increase capacity for conservation of threatened fish species in Uganda

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Mobilizing data on localities for fish will involve considering sources including preserved specimens

The European Union, through the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) has awarded a €20,000 (about 74 million Uganda shillings) grant, to a team of fisheries scientists I am part of, to implement a project aimed at increasing capacity for conservation of different fish types in Uganda.

The other members of the team include Vianny Natugonza, also at the National Fisheries Resources Research Institute, and Dr. Jackson Efitre at the Department of Zoology, Entomology, and Fisheries Sciences, Makerere University.

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A section inside the fish museum at the National Fisheries Resources Research Institute, Uganda

In general, conservation decisions depend on availability of information in a form that can facilitate generation of more knowledge and usable by for example policy makers. This is however not the case at least for locality data for different fish types in Uganda, yet information on where fish live can be the basis for protecting or restoring the areas in which they live.   This project will work to put locality data for fishes in Uganda into one publicly accessible data base, train scientists active in monitoring and management of fish biodiversity data to improve their skills for data management (from data acquisition to publishing and (3) engage policy makers on how to use the data during decision making.

This intervention supplements many more similar interventions in place to conserve fish species in Uganda estimated to be about 268, which ultimately contributes to resilience and sustainability of fisheries and dependent livelihoods.

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Illustration of some fish types found in Uganda (A=Raiamas senegalensis, B=Mormyrops anguilloides, C=Amphilius jacksonii, D=Labeo forskalii, E=Clarias gariepinus, & F=Labeobarbus somereni)

Below is the summary of the project.

The project summary is Effective conservation planning depends on the existence of reliable data being available on the status and distribution of fisheries resources. NaFIRRI houses a huge number of specimens that document spatial and temporal patterns of fish diversity in Uganda; however, the full potential of these collections has not been realized because the specimens and biodiversity information they hold are accessible almost solely to scientists at the institute. In addition, there are other institutions and individual scientists actively involved in monitoring and management of biodiversity data, but have data in formats which are technically unusable by other researchers, conservationists, and policy makers. Inevitably, this rich fish biodiversity data makes little or no impact in terms of informing conservation policies. The goal of this project is to increase capacity for conservation of threatened fish species through data mobilization and training. The specific objectives are (1) to mobilize data on at least 10,000 fish records from Uganda’s aquatic systems (including lakes, rivers and streams, and wetlands), (2) identify and train scientists active in monitoring and management of fish biodiversity data in the use of data publishing tools, and (3) create awareness among policy makers in use of biodiversity information for decision making. The mobilized data will be published through GBIF and UgaBIF, and will be incorporated into relevant conservation policies in Uganda through close involvement of biodiversity research and management agencies, universities, and policy makers. In the long-term, this project is anticipated to increase capacity for evidence–based conservation, biodiversity research, and education.

Below you can watch a video of the project launch

 

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