By KASIMBI NELSON EDWARD
ENTEBBE – The fishing community at Gudda fishing site, Entebbe Municipality, in Wakiso district, is gearing steps to fight against unorthodox fishing and illegal fishing gears are the two most dangerous methods used to extract fish from water bodies across the country. Lake Victoria being the most affected, this has contributed to the depletion of aquatic species. Such methods also create hostilities among local fishermen, as fish become scarce.
Fishermen said, although the government deployed the military to end bad fishing, as a model of reshaping Uganda’s fishing sector, the operation has not yet harvested victory, since the army can be easily compromised by the culprits, they told PML Daily, upon visiting Gudda fishing Village on Sunday.
“There are zones on the lake where we don’t fish from, we left them to act as bleeding zones, but some of our colleagues, who go behind our backs, and bribe soldiers, are left to fish in such zones. Therefore, we appeal to the government to remove soldiers and give us back the responsibilities of protecting the lake and work on such people,” said Musoke Livingstone, a fisherman.
Lake Victoria supports Africa’s largest inland fishery, with the majority of the fish caught being Nile Perch, introduced in the lake in the 1950s, and still keeping the support, according to Musoke, the government should provide civic education to fishermen if is to end such evils done on the lake is to be eliminated.
“Deploying the military on the lake, the government would organize for us seminars to impart knowledge and skills in us, which I think, could help to fight the entire illegals do the waters.”
The rapid decline of fish stocks and species in Ugandan waters is largely fuelled by undeclared and illegal operations, to fight this; the law must prevail in all corners, which the authorities in charge of fighting the evil have failed. It is high time for the fishing community to take part in the struggle to save water lives for them to earn once again.
The fishery is a vital sector to the country’s economy; it contributes 12 per cent to the agricultural G.D.P. and about 3.6 per cent to the National G.D.P. Fish alone generates about sh.442 billion annually in lending and internal exports. Uganda can produce about 450,000 metric tons of fish annually from captured fisheries, only if everyone takes part in the battle of conservation of the aquatic for the country to export and earn foreign exchange and provide services to the population.
However, Silver Kityo, the acting secretary of the fisheries group, said that the committee which oversees and guides fishermen when operating on the lake is well-known for its appetite to discipline whoever engages in illegal fishing.
“We don’t allow anyone to operate on the lake with substandard fishing nets that have been disbanded by the government. if we get you, we have a committee where we summon you and you are punished severely.”
For Kalori Marginal another fisherman, boosted for their role of conservation of the aquatics saying, “We have embarked at using legal fishing gears, and methods, to see that our fishing does not affect the young species like fish and other aquatics, so that tomorrow we can earn again.”