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Manpower shortage affecting UPDF operation against illegal fishing

The spokesperson FPU Lt. Lauben Ndifuna says illegal fishing is an offence and can lead to arrests

Masaka, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Fisheries Protection Unit-FPU has blamed the persistent incursion of illegal fishing habits on the limited number of personnel deployed to fight the practices at the different fishing grounds across the country.

In 2017, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni created the FPU, as a branch of the Uganda People’s Defense Forces-UPDF, which he accordingly deployed to combat illegal fishing practices in a bid to reawaken the economic viability of the fisheries sector.

Despite their presence and operations conducted at the different landing sites and fishing villages, the FPU soldiers are struggling to stamp out illegal fishing practices causing huge losses.

Lieutenant Reuben Ndifula, FPU Spokesperson attributes the persistent trend of illegal fishing habits to lack of enough manpower required to effectively subdue the offenders.

Speaking to the media after an operation conducted on different landing sites in Kalungu and Mpigi districts on Lake Victoria waters on Wednesday, Ndifula noted that many of the landing sites are highly populated which provides fertile grounds for offenders to continue operating stealthy.

Although Ndifula does not give numbers of FPU personnel, he says the available numbers can hardly watch over all the landing sites and consistently conduct operations.

Ndifula also noted that in addition to the operations against illegal fishing practices, the FPU has considered engaging the fish venders and consumers at the different forums to dissuade them from tolerating immature fish, as well as helping to report the culprits.

According to him, despite the ongoing operations in which the FPU has arrested and caused the prosecution of thousands of culprits, confiscated tons of illegal fishing gear and undersized fish, they are still bothered by some offenders who continue to evade the soldiers to continue with their forbidden habits, hence the need to reinvent their operations to eliminate the problem.

However, Fredrick Ggesa Mwitale, the Masaka District Fisheries Officer who also coordinates Officers in the Central region districts, observes that there is need by the government to profile all players, which include; fishermen in their respective categories, owners and boat makers, traders and occupational fish transporters; saying the approach will ably streamline the fisheries sector in the country.

According to him, having proper records of all key players in the fisheries sub-sector, enables the law enforcement teams to easily track wrongdoers other than mounting roadblocks and pursuing culprits on the water bodies which is both risky and expensive.



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