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Operation against illegal fishing gears on Lake Albert increases fish prices

PAKWACH – Following the recent launch of an operation against the illegal fishing gears on Lake Albert, the price of fish in the various markets in the greater Nebbi districts has gone higher.

As a result of the operation, fishermen who were fishing using illegal fishing gears have become jobless after their boats and illegal fishing nets were impounded and burnt in a joint operation by Uganda People Defence Forces (UPDF) marines and Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) at Dei landing sites, in Panyimur sub-county in Pakwach district last month.

The operation that is being mounted to conserve the fish population in the water following an outcry by the government of Uganda on the declining fish species on Ugandan lakes.

According to some fish mongers, before the operation was launched by the UPDF marines and MAAIF against illegal fishing gears on Lake Albert last month, a kilo of fish was at Shs 15,000 but after the launch, the price of fish has gone to Shs 20,000 per kilo.

Ms. Gorety Acen, a fish dealer at Dei landing site says, fish business has become one of the soaring businesses ever since most of their suppliers lost their boats and fishing nets in the recent operation mounted by UPDF marines and MAAIF against illegal fishing gears on Lake Albert.

She says, she used to spend Shs1.5m daily to buy fish at Dei landing site, but these days she spends Shs 5m on her daily purchase because fish are no longer available due to the ongoing operations on Lake Albert.

“There is shortage of fish at the landing sites and markets which has increased the price of fish in the market because many fishermen lost their boats and fishing gears at the landing sites following the joint operation against illegal fishing gears by UPDF marines and MAAIF,” Acen said.

Mr Peter Okumu another fish monger says, they hardly get fish ever since the operation on illegal fishing gears on Lake Albert was launched last month by UPDF Marines and MAAIF.

He adds that, the continuous operations that are aimed at reserving the fish species on Lake Albert has turned some fishermen jobless for failing to meet the required normal fishing gears needed by MAAIF hence causing increase in the price of fish in the markets.

However, the Chairman Business Community Panyimur Town Council, Paul Kinobe says, operations on lake Albert against illegal fishing gears didn’t only affect the price of fish but, also the livelihoods of the fishermen who rely on fishing as the only alternatives to survive.

“Operations on Lake Albert will force some fishermen who lost their fishing gears to sell off their assets to remit their loan repayments and feeding of their family members,” Kinobe said.

The Principal Fisheries Inspector MAAIF, Paul Okware says, fishing communities will start reaping a lot from the lake because the operations on the illegal fishing gears is to protect the fish families that are in danger of getting depleted by bad fishing practices which exposes the immature fish.

He says the highest fish Uganda exports is only rated at $132 million for 16,000 tonnes meaning that if the operations are extended for more than six months, Uganda will export more Metrix tonnes to the outside world and the Ugandan economy will also shoot up.

“We know it’s so painful for fishing communities to bear the ongoing pains but, in the long run they will celebrate the outcome of the operations on illegal fishing gears,” Okware said.

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