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Fisheries Protection Unit accused of abetting illegal fishing on L. Kyoga

Fishermen on Lake Kyoga are decrying the illegal fishing taking place under the watch of FPU personnel.

Nakasongola , Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Uganda People’s Defense Forces-UPDF, Fisheries Protection Unit personnel have been accused of involving themselves in illegal fishing on Lake Kyoga in Nakasongola district.

Last year, the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries lifted the ban on Lake Kyoga but directed that only boats with an interior overall length of 28-feet, recommended fishnets and registered fishermen are allowed on the lake. Although the ministry maintained the deployment of unit personnel to enforce the guidelines, the same are now accused of abetting illegal fishing.

Charles Bogere, the district councillor for Nakasongola town says that the soldiers have been spotted offering protection to fishermen who use illegal boats to conduct fishing at Kibuye and Kikoiro landing sites after getting money from them. Bogere explains that the illegal boats have caused immense damage to fishing grounds and partly depleted the fish stock under the watch of FPU soldiers.

Mariam Nabutaka, the female councillor for Lwampanga sub-county says that some of the boats impounded on other landing sites are released to FPU agents who use them in illegal fishing. Nabutaka alleges that the immature fish caught from the lake are sorted and transported to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Daniel Sentalo, the chairman of the Beach Management Unit at Ninga landing site says that initially, they were volunteering information about fishermen who use illegal fishing gear but FPU turned a deaf ear only to learn later that they were benefiting in the vice.

Other fishermen regretted buying the recommended boats at a high cost, only to see another group allowed to use illegal boats under the watch of FPU personnel.

A report compiled by the Nakasongola District Finance Committee also revealed that the district failed to collect much revenue in the financial year 2020/21 from landing sites over alleged illegal fishing activities. Now the leaders and fishermen have asked the Uganda People’s Defense Forces to immediately replace the Fisheries Protection Unit if the operations against illegal fishing are to yield results.

Captain Andrew Nayebare, the Commander of the Fisheries Protection Unit was unavailable to comment on the allegations. However, recently he was quoted in the media denying knowledge of his men involved in the illegal fishing and asked fishermen and locals to volunteer information about the same to him for further action.

Retired Lieutenant Sam Kigula, the LC V chairman of Nakasongola district says that he received complaints from fishermen and notified the UPDF which has since embarked on investigations against the unit. Kigula says that he also got information that the Commander of the unit has been replaced.


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