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Fisheries Protection Unit destroys 1500 illegal fishnets

FILE PHOTO: Illegal fishnets and gears burnt by UPDF Fisheries Protection Unit.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT  | The Uganda People’s Defense Forces-UPDF Fisheries Protection Unit has destroyed 1500 illegal fishing nets that were impounded from different wholesale shops in Jinja district.

The nets were confiscated between September 2019 and January 2020. They comprised of both monofilaments and cast nets and were valued at 30 million shillings.

Maj. Joseph Ssebukera, the Commandant of the UPDF Fisheries Protection Unit on Eastern Lake Victoria, says the impounded nets carry electric current, which peels off fish skin causing it to die and float on the lake.

He explained that such nets cause losses to government as immature fish meant to earn bigger revenue is left to rot on water surfaces.

Ssebukera also explained that the nets are proposed from plastic material, saying that when they sink they affect the multiplication of all aquatic organisms including fish.

He says their operation followed leads from fishermen arrested for illegal fishing on different land sites.

“We managed to truck these illegal net dealers through some of the suspects arrested during operations. 25 suspects have so far been arrested and prosecuted, whereas five others closed shop, signed an ordinance promising never to engage in illegal fishnets again and were pardoned by the authorities,” he said.

Ssebukera however, stressed the challenge of uncontrolled black market where fishermen freely trade in these fishnets, which he claimed frustrates their efforts to stamp out illegal fishing practices.

Majid Magumba, the Chairperson of The Association of Fishers and Lake Users of Uganda-AFALU in Jinja district, says it is hard to deter fishermen from using illegal nets as they are cheap and trap more fish compared to the legal nets.

Magumba says the only solution to illegal fishing is tightening security checks at the boarder points to stop the entry of illegal fishing gears.



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