Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The government has announced that a fishing ban imposed on Lake Kyoga will be lifted within the next three weeks.
The Uganda People’s Défense Forces-UPDF Fisheries Protection Unit and the Ministry of Agriculture imposed a ban on all fishing activities at Lake Kyoga in 2019, as one of the measures to stop illegal fishing and encourage restocking.
Lieutenant Colonel Benon Namanya, the commander of the Fisheries Protection Unit for Nakasongola district says that Lake Kyoga has now been cleared of illegal fishing activities by 80 percent thanks to their operations. Namanya says that as result, there are increased fish stocks in the lake.
The State Minister for Fisheries Hellen Ondoa has announced that following the success recorded in operations against illegal fishing, the ban will be lifted. Ondoa says that they had planned to lift the ban on Wednesday, July 1, but the fishermen were not prepared to resume fishing activities with recommended tools.
The Minister said that for any fisherman to be allowed back on lake, he must own a licensed and recommended 28 feet boat, fishing nets and a life jacket. They are all expected to register and possess a National Identity Card from before they are permitted to carry out fishing activities in the area.
The Ministry has approved only 1,733 boats to operate on the lake, out of the more than 30,000 boats that existed before the ban. Each boat will also not be allowed to carry more than three fishermen. Area leaders and fishermen have welcomed the lifting of the ban saying they were stuck in poverty because the lake had been their sole source of livelihood.
Muhammadi Kayondo, a fisherman at Lwampanga landing site says that fishermen had been rendered jobless after the ban while others drowned after they sneaked into the lake to carry out illegal fishing for survival. But Robert Lukwago another fisherman fears that with all the conditions imposed on them, they are unlikely to benefit from the lifting of the ban.
Nakasongola district chairman Sam Kigula says that the Ministry should help fishermen who may not meet the requirements to return to the lake for alternative jobs.
During its operations, the Fisheries Protection Unit impounded 134 motorcycles and 114 vehicles which were being used to transport immature fish to markets in Nakasongola, Luweero and Kampala.
The Unit also arrested and prosecuted 104 fish transporters for engaging in illegal fishing activities from which 61 convictions were secured. The Unit also destroyed 6,242 illegal boats and over 100,000 nets used in illegal fishing among other tools.