Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Fishing activities have resumed on 13 landing sites in Kwania and Dokolo districts. It follows the government’s decision to lift the suspension on fishing activities on Lake Kwania and Kyoga after the March 2019 suspension on the request from Lake Kyoga Integrated Management Organization (LAKIMO) over concerns of depletion of fish species due to poor fishing methods.
The suspension that was expected to last for two months was expected to replenish the fish stock and enable fishermen to acquire standard fishing boats and gears. The government lifted the suspension in July 2020 but only allowed fishermen with the recommended boat sizes to venture into the lake.
But several landing sites in Dokolo and Kwania districts remained closed due to delays in procuring the required boat size which cost about 1.7 million Shillings alongside the standard fishing net at one million Shillings. The standard boat also requires an engine which costs about 2.5 million Shillings.
James Okello, the chairperson of the fishing community is excited that at least 80 fishermen in Dokolo and 79 in Kwania district have been cleared to resume fishing that was officially flagged off by Col James Nuwagaba, the Commandant of the Fisheries Protection Unit at Atuma landing site in Kwania on Saturday.
He however says fishing will be restricted to only eight out of 13 landing sites. These include Atuma, Abei, Abali, Bot, Owiny, Ogwil and Ogwil in Kwania. Only five of the 10 landing sites in Dokolo including Aoa, Igar, Wigudu, Ayei and Adeknino have been reopened. Okello explains that the number of landing sites was reduced to help fight illegal fishing practices.
Phoebe Atino, a widow whose mainstay is fishing is excited about the resumption of fishing activities saying the reopening of the lake will improve their livelihoods.
Alfred Ebong, a fisherman at Ogwil landing site in Kwania is optimistic that he will now be able to provide for his family which has been starving since fishing was suspended.
Basil Okello Onac, the Kwania district chairperson and his Dokolo counterpart Fredrick Dickens Odongo have asked the fishermen to safeguard the lake and abide by the guidelines instituted by the Fisheries Protection Unit. They pledged to ensure that all fishermen allowed into the lake comply with COVID-19 preventive guidelines.
They want the government to allow the fishermen to get the required fishing gears on loan since most of them may not be able to acquire the required costly fishing gears.
Col. James Nuwagaba, the Commandant of the UPDF Fisheries Protection Unit says the government has given the fishermen an ultimatum of six months to comply with the requirements. He also warned the fishermen against using illegal fishing gears and asked them to use fishing to improve their household income and well beings.