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Buliisa fishermen irked over “hurry up” fishing ban

BULIISA, May 29, 2024 – Fishermen operating on the shores of Lake Albert in Biliisa district have protested government’s decision to ban the “hurry-up” fishing method, claiming that scoop net fishing method [locally known as chotachota nets], recommended to fish silverfish [Mukene] is not practical.

Recently the Agriculture ministry banned the ‘hurry-up’ fishing method used to catch Nile perch, including juveniles, thereby jeopardising the sustainability of the fisheries sector in the country.

Speaking recently at a sensitisation meeting organised by Fisheries Protection Unit [FPU] to create awareness about the new fishing method [scooping], Robert Ongei, Chairman of Warukuba Mukene Fishermen  Association said the implementation of the new method of fishing is not practical as there was no prior training of the fishermen on the same.

He noted that Lake Albert has of recent become deep, and therefore fishermen cannot manage to use scoping method, which is better applicable on shallow water bodies.

“Sir, let us go with you to the lake with this chotachota nets, and see if you will manage to catch 10 cups of mukene.  I will give you Shs 200,000 if you do it. I am concluding that you have stopped us from fishing Mukene but you do not want to tell us  directly,” he said.

Amina Duchiru a fisherwoman from  Warukuba landing site in Buliisa district said use chotachota fishing nets cannot work, and that it is aimed at stopping mukene business.

“How can the Ministry [Ministry of Agriculture] recommend to use such fishing net on this deep lake [Lake Albert]. It is not possible. We are requesting you to get us another method of fishing instead of this chotachota, we are going to die of poverty if you go by this decision of banning the ‘hurry up” fishing method.

Ismail Ramadan another fisherman from Butiaba landing site demanded government to give them at least three month as they familiarise  themselves with the new method of fishing.

He said that Lake Albert is a source of of livelihood to the families of fishermen, calling upon government to reverse the decision to ban “hurry up” method of fishing.

He noted some fishermen had already paid license fees for catching mukene and demanded the district to return their money.

Responding to the fishermen’s concerns about scoping as a fishing method, Philip Kutegeka the Buliisa District Fisheries Officer said the district will not return the money because they have not stopped the fishermen from fishing.

He advised the fishermen to start using chotachota nets, saying that failure to adhere to the advice will lead to the fishermen being apprehended by law enforcement agencies.

He noted directive of using chotachota is good for the fishermen because it is aimed at restoring the depleted fish in the lake. He said the Agriculture ministry is conducting research and will give new guidelines on mukene fishing.

In the same vein, Maj. Frank Kanzira the Operations officer FPU who chaired the sensitisation meeting  said the use of Hurry-up fishing gear   was banned across the different lakes  in the  country, although it was still being used on  Lake Albert.

He noted that the FPU will only allow the recommended fishing nets to stop the depletion of fish resources in the country.

“This hurry-up’ fishing gears catches mukene and it even catches Nile Perch. It also doesn’t spare the eggs, on other lakes like Victoria and Kyoga,” he said.

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