Serere, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Several fishermen who did not register in Serere district have resorted to illegal fishing after government lifted a ban on fishing in Lake Kyoga.
In March, the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries issued a directive to all boat owners along Lake Kwania and Lake Kyoga to register their boats. The move was aimed at regulating illegal fishing activities and conserving Uganda’s water bodies.
Last month, the government lifted the ban, however, the Fisheries Protection Unit- FPU has recorded a rise in the number of people engaging in illegal fishing activities. At least seven illegal boats with fishing gears are impounded and confiscated in Kagwara on every day.
Lt. Julius Ankunda, the FPU Commandant for Serere and Kaberamaido says that the illegal fishing is practised in some landing sites that have remained adamant to the guidelines issued.
He identified Opiyai, Asinge and Ateng in Kadungulu sub county as some of the leading landing sites where illegal fishing is common. He however noted that the local leadership in the area is not doing much to curb the vice.
Sam Opolot, an elder at Kagwara landing site wants all the fishermen engaged in illegal fishing prosecuted. He observes that the problem has persisted because there is no punitive action for the culprits.
In most cases, fishermen arrested with illegal fishing gears are released after spending a few days in custody.
Bernard Odikor, a resident of Akwangalet village in Kadungulu sub county says people are forced to engage in illegal fishing due to the high poverty levels. He explains that the cost of a recommended boat and fishing gears cost more than five million shillings which some fishermen cannot afford.
More than 2,000 illegal boats and fishing nets have been confiscated in Serere district since FPU started its operations in the area in January.