Army burns fishing gear and leaves fishermen stranded
Hundreds of fishermen operating around Lake Albert in Buliisa district saw their economic activity halt after soldiers from the UPDF’s Fisheries Protection Unit (FPU) set their fishing gear on fire over the weekend. end.
The FPU accuses residents of using illegal fishing gear, which has not reached the recommended size.
In an operation led by FPU commander Lt. Col. Dick Kirya Kaija, the military destroyed hundreds of boats and nets at various landing sites.
Ms Achen Maditrwoth, one of the locals whose boat was destroyed, said fishing has been her mainstay over the years and the destruction of her fishing boat will push her into bankruptcy.
“At the moment, I am stranded with nothing to feed my family members since my boat was destroyed,” she said.
She said they would have allowed them to continue fishing until they got the money to buy the recommended fishing gear.
In January 2017, President Museveni created the FPU to crack down on illegal fishing on Lake Victoria, responsible for the depletion of fish stocks in the country.
This has, over the past two years, seen the size of fish stocks, especially Nile perch, increase significantly.
During FPU operations, people suspected of trafficking in immature fish were arrested and several unlisted landing sites were destroyed on the shores of Lakes Victoria and Kyoga. According to the Department of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, illegal fishing involves using fishing nets that are less than five inches for tilapia and less than seven inches for Nile perch. It also involves the use of fishing boats that are less than 20 feet in length and without a life jacket.
According to the fishermen, the recommended fishing boat costs over 3.5 million Shs while the boat motors cost between 5 and 9 million Shs.
In May 2019, the government banned commercial fishing on the lake due to illegal fishing methods. The government lifted the ban on July 27, 2020, and fewer fishermen were allowed to operate along the country’s lakes.
Ms. Evelin Uyenymungu, another local, said the government should facilitate loans for fishermen to purchase the recommended size of nets.
Lt. Col. Kaija said all fishermen operating on Lake Albert have a week to ensure they have acquired the correct fishing gear.
Fish exports brought Uganda about $ 10.39 million (Shs38.9b) in September last year, according to the Bank of Uganda (BoU). Profits were obtained from 1,375 tonnes of fish and related products, an increase of 14% from 1,384 tonnes which reached $ 8.87 million (Shs33.2b) in August. Cumulatively, however, according to BoU, fish exports, in the year ended September, fell to $ 147.75 million (Shs554b), a 32% drop from $ 195 million (Shs732b ) which Uganda won in the same period last year.