Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Standards, Utilities, and Wildlife Court in Kampala has fined 40 Kenyan fishermen sh700,000 (Ksh22,113) each for fishing on the Ugandan side of Lake Victoria without a valid license.
The fishermen who have spent a month on remand at Luzira Prison were arrested and charged with illegal fishing and fishing without valid licenses. Last month, they were convicted based on their own plea of guilt.
Court heard that the 40 Kenyans on July 29 2022 between 2 pm and 6 pm on the waters of Lake Victoria in Namayingo District were found fishing without a valid license issued by the Chief Fisheries Officer for Purposes of Sale.
The Court also heard that on the same day, they were carrying out fishing using mosquito nets to carry out their illegal acts of fishing.
But shortly after they pleaded guilty, the prosecutors led by Allan Mucunguzi asked the court to hand them a deterrent and custodial sentence arguing that many Kenyans have come onto the Ugandan waters on Lake Victoria and continued to use mosquito nets which are not authorized to do fishing, to carry out their illegal activities.
On Thursday while appearing before, Chief Magistrate Gladys Kamasanyu, the Kenyans who did not have lawyers were each asked to say something in relation to the punishment.
But the majority of them told the court that they are struggling to earn a living, and have families and children to look after. They were remorseful and promised not to repeat the offense.
The fishermen who looked composed noted that once released, they will acquire licenses.
They pleaded to the court to order the government to return their confiscated materials which include 10 boats and their engines because it’s their source of income.
Kamasanyu sentenced each of the convicts to pay a fine of 500,000 shillings for the charge of using unauthorized nets and 200, 000 shillings for fishing without a valid license or face a jail term of one year. She said that their actions deprived the country of revenue and leads to the depletion of fish.
She said that the convicts deserved a punishment that will deter others to carry out illegal fishing activities in the country.
The Kenyans include Patrick Ojjambo , Stephen Odiambo , Samson Onyango, Paul Mboya ,Masson Opondo, Michael Otieno , Vincent Wanga ,Rober Okello, William Otieno , Wycliffe Onyango , Zake Obwaka , Dedan Ouma , Thomas Okoth , Benado Ogweno , Richard Omono , Daniel Owor , Kevin Audi , Kennedy Chenge , George Ouma Benard Ocho and Kevin Odwor , Samson Odenga.
Others are Samson Owino, Francis Omondi ,Eston Ogweno , Tom Otieno , Benjamin Duloch , Kervin Ochieng ,James Juma Ragara , Collins Okado , Glen Washington Onyango, Denis Omondi Ojowa , Samson Omondi , Maurice Mulumba, Eric Kalanga Ochieng , Silas Omondi , Sephama Ochieng , Joel Odhiambo , Esau Dimo Opio and Chrisphine Juma Othieno.