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Alarm over the declining Nile perch stock in Lake Victoria

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In the late 1950s, the Nile perch was introduced to Lake Victoria. One of the consequences was the decline of more than 500 native species, including many haplochromine cichlids that are now extinct. But between 1992 and 2004, the status of the Nile perch rose dramatically due to demand from European countries, and to new scientific literature publicizing the role of the Omega-3 fatty acids to check heart problems and high blood pressure. In 1993 the first commercial fish processing plant opened at Mwanza to take advantage of this boon. Today, scientists are finding a resurgence of native haplochromines to 60% of the lake biomass–nowhere near the 80%+ levels of a half-century ago, but a threat to the industry that has grown up around the Nile perch European market.

Will the commercial viability of Lake Victoria and its ecosystem be sustained? How many of the native haplochromine species have survived?

See also Nature 513, 375- 81 (18 Sept 2014).

Source: The East African – Science and Health

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