The ways in which economic, social, and political forces lead to species introductions are an important, if overlooked, aspect of ecology and conservation. The nonnative Nile perch (Lates niloticus) in Lake Victoria, and the ecological changes associated with the species' establishment and expansion there, has elicited tremendous attention from biologists. Yet it has never been clear why, when, or by whom the fish was introduced. Here I outline the history of fishery research and management in East Africa and explore the circumstances that led to the introduction of the Nile perch. The evidence suggests that repeated secretive introductions were made in the mid-1950s by members of the Uganda Game and Fisheries Department as part of a bifurcated effort to improve sport fishing on the one hand and to bolster fisheries on the other. Fisheries scientists affiliated with the East African Fisheries Research Organization opposed the introduction, but were ineffective; I suggest that this failure stemmed partially from their inability to engage effectively with political processes.
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Vol. 55 • No. 9