Minister Adoa, FPU clash over silver fish dealers

Agriculture -->
Minister Adoa, FPU clash over silver fish dealers
Boats parked at Kavundira landing site

The minister indicated that the ministry suspended only the use of ‘Hurry Up’ method, where fishermen use big fishnet sizes that cover a large surface area to harvest everything in the lake that the net comes across.

The Minister of State for Fisheries, Hellen Adoa, has clashed with the Fisheries Protection Unit (FPU) over what she termed as "unlawful enforcement actions" against fish dealers on Lake Victoria.

Adoa denied the allegations that she’s behind the move to stop and ban all silver fish dealers from operating on the lake.

While addressing journalists at the the Uganda Media Centre on Wednesday, the minister noted that several reports have indicated the illegal, unlawful arrests and suspension of fishing dealers, especially those involved in silver fish in most of the landing sites in the country.

“I have received several calls, including from ministers who come from fishing communities, saying that fishermen who deal in ‘mukene’ have been stopped from fishing by FPU which is wrong," Adoa said.

"We didn’t stop anyone from fishing silver fish but we told them to use proper means of fishing under the new directives.”

The minister indicated that the ministry suspended only the use of ‘Hurry Up’ method, where fishermen use big fishnet sizes that cover a large surface area to harvest everything in the lake that the net comes across.

Fish dealers at Kavundira landing site ponder their next move

In the process of ‘Hurry Up’ method, anything that gets entangled in the net is harvested, including young Nile perch, pelagic, silver fish, and tilapia.

The method is said to pose great danger to the fishing sector.

“Silver fish is found in Lake Victoria and Lake Kyoga, there’s nowhere else you can find it," she said.

"FPU has developed a habit of chasing those found illegally fishing and others end up drowning in the lake, which is also bad. When you find a poor fisherman illegally involved and they run desperately on the waters, don’t chase or beat them; they will have survived and in hope they can’t repeat the same. Let’s use common sense.”

The minister promised to engage FPU, fish leaders and her technical officers to resolve the matter.

However, silver fish dealers from Kimi Island, Bussi and Kavundira landing sites in Wakiso district were suspended erroneously from carrying out activities on Lake Victoria by FPU claiming the implementation of the directive from the ministry of Fisheries.

Chairperson Kavundira landing site, Sserubiri Abraham, commonly known as Zebra, said the FPU operations started two weeks ago that has since denied the entire community access to the lake to carry out fishing.

“Most of our colleagues have been arrested, others died escaping on the waters because of the operations by FPU," he said.

"We are here dying of hunger, we can’t take our children to school, we are neglected. What should we do? We have always followed the directives on good methods of fishing as they said, now why?” Zebra added.

According to the ministry, there are masqueraders who disguise themselves as FPU officers to carry out unlawful enforcement based on their individual interests around the lake.

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