UPDF burns illegal fishing gear on Lake Albert

KIKUUBE, May 22, 2024 – The Uganda People’s Defence Forces’ Fisheries Protection Unit [FPU] guarding Lake Albert has burned illegal fishing gear worth Shs 265 million.

The equipment destroyed belonged to fishermen from Hoima and Kikuube districts. They were destroyed in the presence of the local leaders from Kikuube District Local Government.

Some of the illegal fishing items burnt include;  boat seine, mosquito nets fabricated as fishing gear, beach seine, monofilament pieces, solar batteries, and solar bulbs among others.

According to FPU’s Operations Officer, Maj. Frank Kanzira, the destroyed equipment were impounded during a two-month operation carried out on different landing sites in Kikuube and Hoima districts.

Kanzira said illegal fishing of immature fish has depleted fish in Lake Albert despite the sensitisation of the local communities living along the lake.

He noted that the operation is  creating  sanity at  the lake, adding the use of illegal fishing gear has reduced resulting in the restoration of fish in the Lake.

He urged the fishermen to use the recommended fishing gear to avoid incurring further losses.

However, some of the affected fishermen complained that they were unfairly targeted by the FPU officers.

Nassan Adenge, Speaker of Buseruka Sub-county in Hoima district commended the FPU, saying the destruction of the illegal fishing gear will further restore fish in the lake shared between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo [DRC].

However, he said it IS not the intention of the LOCAL fishermen to use illegal fishing gear but most of them lack funds to procure the recommended fishing equipment.

The politician blamed government for allowing the sale of illegal fishing nets on the local market, and not supporting the fishing communities to procure  recommended fishing gear.

In the same vein, Kabagambe Oroma Muhamud fisherman at kijangi village in Buseruks Subcounty urged government to support fishers to acquire the recommended fishing gear.

However, he appreciated FPU operations, saying sanity has been created on the landing sites and those with the right fishing gears are able to fish mature fish from the lake.

Despite the presence of several predatory fishes, including the Nile perch [Lates niloticus], Lake Albert supports the most diverse commercial fisheries in Uganda with at least 55 species that vary markedly in size, experts say.

The lake contributes at least 30 percent of the national fish production. Increased human activity around and within Lake Albert, especially oil and gas exploration, may pose threats to the well being of the lake, its diverse fish communities and its fishery.

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