Ugandan Fishermen Hide Illegal Fishing Gears In DRC

2485 Views Buliisa, Uganda
Ugandan fishermen on Lake Albert are allegedly hiding their illegal fishing gears in the Democratic Republic of Congo, officials have said. 

Godfrey Mwijakubi, the presidential political Assistant on Bunyoro Affairs one of the officials overseeing the operation on Lake Albert says that although there is notable progress in wiping out illegal fishing gears on the lake, some of them were being hidden in DR. Congo.

The presidential aide says DRC has not stepped up the same operation on its side of the lake and this has provided a safe haven for those with illegal fishing gears to hide them in the neighboring country.

Mwijakubi demanded that Uganda signs a protocol with DRC to allow this operation cover the Congo side of the lake to get out the hidden illegal nets.

According to the presidential aide, 131 illegal Beach seine fishing gears (kokotas) have been taken to DRC by some Ugandan fishermen. There are no well defined border points between Uganda and DRC in the waters of Lake Albert and this has always offered fishermen easy passage to either sides of the lake.

During her recent visit to Lake Albert Fisheries, state Minister Ruth Nankabirwa announced plans by Ugandan and Congolese authorities to work out an understanding on border re-demarcation and joint operations on the lake.

But despite challenges facing the fisheries operation on the lake, some fishermen seem to be realizing a positive impact. Charles Tingiramuruungi a fisherman at Wanseko Landing site says since the start of the operation his fish catch has greatly improved.

Tingiramuruungi explains that he is now able to catch fish species such as tilapia and yellow fish, which had disappeared due to continued use of outlawed fishing nets.

The ministry of fisheries in July this year launched an operation on Lake Albert in its campaign to rid Ugandan waters of illegal fishing gears to protect the fisheries resources.

Since the beginning of the operation four months ago illegal fishing gears worth about 1.5 billion shillings have been impounded and burnt on Lake Albert alone.