How Nile Perch Fish Became Gold for Lake Victoria Fishermen

Did you know that could get rich by being just a fisherman? Yes, just a mere fisherman at Lake Victoria which is Africa’s biggest lake. But to be rich, you have to be lucky to catch a huge Nile Perch fish.

Although the Nile Perch fish is a massive environmental nightmare since its big size demands a lot of eating and hence causing a catastrophic declines among native fish populations, this fish is an important food fish in Africa and also a prized catch for fishermen.

The most precious part of the introduced fish species is the swim bladder also referred to as mondo, maw or ennuni and whose main buyers are the wealthy Chinese and Indians. Just like a ballast in a ship, a swim bladder is a special organ which controls the buoyancy in a fish, helping it to either sink or rise.

The product goes for a fortune depending on how much it weighs with a fisherman getting paid up to ten times for the swim bladder than the price the fish flesh can go for. A Regardless of the regulated processing factories illegalizing large fish catching as these big size fish are substantial spawners and so as to prevent stock recruitment, fishermen are targeting big sized perches since the larger the fish the larger the bladder.

We can dub mondo, maw or ennuni as Aquatic cocaine due to their prices. Scientifically, it is said that the swim bladder is used for the manufacture of bio-degradable surgical sutures which means that these stitches decomposes in the body. The manufacturing of the bio-degradable sutures starts with the washing of the extracted fresh fish gut in water, then purified by dipping in a chemical solution and finally the smoothening and sterilization of the fibers. It is also said that plastic casing of capsules has been replaced by the swim bladders. The Nile perch fish is also used in the preparation of; salmon style slices, soup concentrate, fish sausages, fish hams and fish cutlets. Also the Nile Perch fish skin is used in making of shoes and handbags while its bones are used in ornaments making.

With the bladder trade being a gold mine for the lucky fishermen, it also has its shortcomings. The trade has led to the reduction of local employment opportunities and foreign earnings as the volume of flesh fish exported has significantly reduced as fish processing factories are not accepting large sized Nile Perch carcasses that have already been opened to extract the swim bladder.

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