Kasese, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Fishermen on Lake Edward in Kasese district have asked the government to lift the ban on night fishing following increasing cases of piracy.
As part of the nationwide lockdown, fishing activities during night hours were suspended to stem the spread of COVID-19. The decision was in line with a curfew announced by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.
Before the lockdown, the fishermen would cast their fishing nets in the evening and spend a night on the water to guard over their catch.
However, the fishermen note that suspected Congolese nationals have been stealing their fishing gears including boat engines, nets, boats and fish.
Some fishermen have also been taken hostage and only to regain their freedom after paying a ransom.
Abdullah Mukibi, a fisherman says that the Congolese fishermen are taking advantage of the absence of patrol teams and fishermen from Uganda during the night to cross into Ugandan waters.
Mukibi adds that piracy has become a menace on the lake slowing down the fishing activity.
“Our most need is the government to allow us to operate at night, there we shall be able to defend our items or at least they can send a marine force to oversee them” Mukibi notes.
Javira Mugabwira another fisherman at Katwe landing site says that he has lost his new nets to the Congolese fishermen. He says that the Congolese attack the fishing zone armed with machetes and arrows to loot fish and rob Ugandan boats.
Joseph Kacuncu a boat owner at Katwe landing site lost two of his boats in the last two months to the Congolese fishermen.
Kacuncu also says they are incurring high costs of fuel due to multiple travels since they no longer spend nights in the fishing zones.
Robert Kasaija the chairperson Katwe landing site says more than 20 fishermen have lost their fishing gears worth 70 million shillings.
Kasaija wants the government to consider allowing the fishermen to return to their normal operations while observing the Standard Operating Procedures.
Pascal Ecumu in charge of the Marine Police Unit on Lakes Edward and George says that his office has received cases of theft of fishing gadgets.
He however maintains that the lockdown measures put in place have to obeyed regardless of the present situation.