Alec Jacobson is a photographer and writer based in Vancouver, British Columbia, who likes to dive deep into slow-moving stories. Drawing on his studies in Anthropology, French and Arabic at Amherst College, he prefers to be the only...
Scientists in Uganda have just started reporting some good news: a 30% increase in Nile perch stocks in Lake Victoria. The fishery seemed to be collapsing in 2015 when I went fishing with Rajab. We spent the night in a dangerous storm and caught only 6 small perch. In 2016, I reported in National Geographic that many fishermen expected the industry to collapse due to corruption in the bureaucracy that allowed a tragedy of the commons to play out, with illegal fishing in broad daylight on the beach. One month later, President Yoweri Museveni eliminated that bureaucracy and, in early 2017 with at the suggestion of community stakeholders in fishing town, deployed soldiers to the lake to crack down on illegal fishing. After returning to Uganda with support from the National Geographic Society in 2018, I published another story for National Geographic about the bittersweet change in policy: the poorest fishermen had been driven from their homes when their illegal, though standard, equipment waa seized, but this may have given a chance for the perch population to recover. Now, the data is bearing out what was then just a hope. Whether the fishing industry can find stability in the long term though is still an open question.