Fisheries protection unit destroys illegal Fishing gear valued at Shs 423m

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Fisheries protection unit destroys illegal Fishing gear valued at Shs 423m
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The Fisheries Protection Unit (FPU) of the Uganda Peoples' Defence Forces (UPDF) has successfully destroyed illegal fishing gear worth Shs 423 million at Kawongo landing site on Lake Kyoga in Kayunga district.

The operation was led by Lt Col Mercy Adah Tukahirwa, who emphasized the importance of curbing illegal fishing activities and promoting the growth of the profitable fisheries sector.

The seized gear, including seine nets, cast nets, mina filament nets, undersized hooks, and gill nets, was destroyed to send a strong message against illegal fishing.

Lt Col Tukahirwa made these remarks during a three-day sensitization and familiarization tour of fishing communities dependent on Lake Kyoga for their livelihoods.

The tour included visits to Kawongo, Lwampanga (Nakasongola district), and Namasale (Amolatar district) landing sites. Its objective was to facilitate dialogue between the fishing communities and FPU personnel, addressing the challenges they face and raising awareness about the benefits of legal fishing practices.

Expressing gratitude for the support received from the President and Commander in Chief of UPDF Gen Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, Lt Col Tukahirwa commended his dedication to increasing fish harvests in the country.

The deployment of the FPU to combat illegal fishing activities is evidence of this commitment.

She urged the fishing communities to use appropriate fishing gear, emphasizing the need to protect the water bodies and ensure the sustainability of the highly lucrative fishing industry.

"Water bodies don't expand, but the population does. There will come a time when lakes cannot sustain us if encroachment continues," she stated.

The encroachment of water bodies by unscrupulous fishermen prompted her to call for maximum cooperation between FPU troops and fishing communities to foster the growth of the sector.

Furthermore, Lt Col Tukahirwa appealed to leaders in the Amolatar district to prioritize government programs aimed at combating illegal fishing instead of engaging in politics.

She emphasized the importance of truth-telling to uplift communities and eradicate poverty.

While some fishermen with impounded gear were pardoned, Lt Col Tukahirwa cautioned them against engaging in illegal fishing activities.

Residents and landing site chairpersons expressed their willingness to cooperate with the FPU personnel and extended their gratitude to President Museveni for his visionary leadership, which has led to an increase in fish stocks, particularly Nile Perch and Tilapia, with some weighing between 65 to 80 kilograms.

Unfortunately, certain fishing communities raised concerns about the theft of boat engines and fishing nets among fishermen, the lack of resources to acquire recommended fishing gear to abandon poor fishing methods, insufficient FPU presence in certain areas to regulate the sector effectively (particularly at Lwampanga landing site), and heavy-handedness in dealing with individuals suspected of engaging in illegal fishing, among other issues.

In 2017, President Museveni initiated an operation against illegal fishing, resulting in a significant increase in fish stocks across Uganda's lakes and rivers.

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