Uganda: Police Impound Over 650 Illegal Fishing Nets

Police together with Wakiso District authorities have impounded and destroyed more than 650 illegal fishing nets on Bussi and Zzinga Islands in the last six months.

This was revealed at the weekend during an operation where 20 fishermen, who were found harvesting immature fish, were arrested and their boats and fishing gear taken as exhibits to help court proceed with their prosecution.

They include Brian Arinaitwe, Deo Ssemanda, Alex Tebandeke and Lawrence Dungu and are detained at Zzinga police station.

Confirmation

The officer in charge of criminal investigations at Zzinga Police Station, Mr Gregory Hadoto, confirmed the arrests, saying: "We have charged the suspects with possession of illegal fishing gear. They will be taken to Entebbe court for prosecution."

At a meeting of stakeholders, including police, the Bussi Sub-county chief, Mr Richard Mabira, said harvesting immature fish has affected the district revenue since immature fish are sold cheaply.

"The country has lost billions of money because of the fishermen who use unprofessional fishing nets to capture young fish from the lake. Our records show that in the last 6 months, we have managed to impound over 650 fishing nets which we have burnt," he said.

Mr Samuel Mugaya, the conservation and livelihood officer from HOPE Foundation, an NGO at the forefront of fighting illegal fishing in the communities, said they will partner with local communities to fight the vice.

Background

During the 2016 presidential campaigns, President Museveni while addressing residents of Wabinyonyi in Nakasongola District ordered the Beach Management Bodies (BMUs) to quit the lakes amid accusations that they were harassing fishermen.

However, Mr Mugaya, said their absence has escalated the problem of harvesting young fish.

"Ordering BMUs to leave lakes was a wrong decision by the President because when they left, the problem of illegal fishing also increased," he said.

The BMUs units served a number of roles, including licensing boats, vetting fishermen, and enforcing safety guidelines for fishing operations among others.

Source: The Monitor