Masaka, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Ugandan fishermen are mooting for standard practices across the East African Community region as a way of eliminating illegal fishing. They argue that although Uganda put in place a Fisheries Protection Unit-FPU to mount operations against illegal fishing practices, the plan remains self-defeating in the absence of standard guidelines among EAC member states.
Daudi Mugerwa, the chairperson of Fish Traders Association at Ddimo Landing Site in Masaka district says that while Uganda deployed soldiers to enforce standards, their efforts are being frustrated by the counterparts from Kenya and Tanzania who are still carrying out indiscriminative fishing with no restraints from their governments.
Mugerwa says that the lake will continue being depleted of fish stocks if the countries fail to work out a protocol to put in place common practices. Mugerwa has challenged the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries to champion the crusade if they intend to decisively address illegal fishing.
Moses Kimbugwe, the Chairperson of Muwololo Village located at Kalokoso, one of the landing sites that were closed in Masaka district also indicates that because there is no clear feature between the countries sharing Lake Victoria, their counterparts in the neighbouring district cross into Uganda with prohibited fishing gear.
According to him, the operations are carried out on the Ugandan shorelines where the FPU have since closed illegal landing sites, but the water remained prone to the same problems that are now perpetrated by aliens. Kimbugwe says that that the army, through their ruthless operations also lead to displacement of thousands of people whose survival was largely dependent on fishing activities, arguing it’s a high time a sustainable solution is devised.
However, the State Minister for Fisheries Hellen Ondoa who has now authorized the reopening of some of the landing sites that had been closed in Masaka district says that they studying possibilities of creating harmonious to the environment between the law enforcement officers and fishermen.
In the meantime, Ondoa says they have instructed the FPU soldiers to change their approach of operation, to focusing on sensitizing the fishing communities on the commended fishing practices and gears other than being oppressive to the culprits. She adds that her Ministry will take up the idea of engaging other regional counterparts to the best fishing practices amongst them.