Hoima, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Uganda Peoples Defence Forces Fisheries Protection Unit-FPU, has distributed 1000 kilograms of impounded immature fish to Uganda Prisons Services, police and the army in Hoima.
The immature fish was impounded from various landing sites on Lake Albert in the Bunyoro sub-region where the Fisheries Protection Unit-FPU has been conducting operations against illegal fishing gear since August.
The operation is targeting those with undersized boats, fishing nets, hooks and monofilament nets among others from the landing sites of Butiaba, Wanseko, Bugoigo and Kabolwa in Buliisa, Kijangi, Kaiso, Rwentale, Runga and Mbegu in Hoima, Nkondo, Sebigoro, Kyehoro, Bugoma and Kyekapere in Kikuube, Ndaiga and Kitebere in Kagadi.
The gear that does not meet specifications has been confiscated and burnt, while the fish is what has been distributed to the men in uniform. Hoima government prison was given 700 kilograms of fish, the army got 200 kilograms while the police force was given 100 kilograms of the impounded immature fish.
Major Richard Mafabi, the sector commander who is overseeing the FPU operations on Lake Albert says the decision followed a court order allowing them to dispose of the impounded fish. He adds that more of the fish will be distributed to vulnerable groups such as the elderly, orphans and widows through Uganda Police Force and Uganda Red Cross Society.
Yosam Tumwebaze, the Hoima Resident District Commissioner-RDC says the distribution of the impounded immature fish is in line with government policy.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, illegal fishing involves using less than five-inch fishing nets for tilapia and less than seven-inch fishing nets for Nile Perch. It also entails using fishing boats that are less than 20 feet in length.
It is estimated that Uganda loses USD430 million from unregulated fishing every year. To improve regulation and restock the lakes, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni ordered the deployment of FPU personnel on the lakes since 2017.
In November this year, the fishermen asked the army leadership to investigate the Fisheries Protection Unit-FPU for allegedly selling impounded immature fish in the Democratic Republic of Congo-DRC. According to the aggrieved fishermen, FPU personnel are conniving with boat transporters both in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo to quietly sneak their impounded immature fish to DRC through Lake Albert.
There are more than 50,000 fishermen on Lake Albert who harvest more than 100,000 tons of fish per year. Overall, fishing supports the livelihood of more than 1.6 million people in Uganda.