The UPDF’s Fish Protection unit -FPU in Buikwe District has launched a one-month exercise of returning to fishermen their fishing gear which was impounded in illegal fishing and those transporting immature fish.
The launch was spearheaded by the Buikwe District Residential District Commissioner (RDC) Hajjat. Hawa Ndege at Kiyindi landing site FPU Detach with caution to fishermen to desist from being involved in illegal fishing that led them in trouble.
Among the items returned were boats, engines, two cars and over fifteen motorcycles that were transporting immature fish to the markets, for every fisherman to retain his items they were required to present the national ID, an agreement or receipt and a letter from the chairperson.
Maj. Bernard Karugaba the Political Commissar of FPU said the move was aimed at implementing the presidential directive to return all the materials that were impounded in 2017 citing that the fishermen have reformed.
He, however, noted that the illegal fishing nets will not be handed back but to burn them. The beneficiaries of the pardoning after receiving their fishing gear pledged not to engage in illegal fishing again but some fishermen are unhappy with the discriminatory laws based on investors using illegal fishing gear to be left fishing.
Buikwe RDC Hawa Ndege welcomed the move but called for the practice of arresting fishermen and arraigning them in Kampala courts to be abolished as Buikwe has a court where people can be tried.
Ms Ndege is also dismayed with the marine police acts of extortion and it’s the reason why illegal fishing has remained on Lake Victoria because whoever is arrested for illegal fishing pays the bribe and they continue using the illegal gear.
Cpl. Okwareti James. Commander the FPU in the Buikwe sector revealed that illegal nets amounting to Shs400m where burnt and it was after securing a court order to do so.