Officials of Beach Management Units-BMU operating on Lake Victoria have resolved to petition parliament over a parallel team of fisheries law enforcement officers deployed on the lake. The parallel team was allegedly deployed on the lake by Ruth Nankabirwa, the state minister for fisheries to curb illegal fishing. However, BMU officials accuse the fisheries officers of brutalizing fishermen and extortion.
Hassan Maganda, a BMU official at Kisima landing site says that the law enforcement officers charge fishermen exorbitant fines and are involved foggery. He says that they have resolved to present their petition to parliament this week. John Bosco Akela, a BMU official at Wairaka says the confusion caused by the deployed of the parallel fisheries enforcement officials can only be stopped by parliament.
He says that they can no longer collect permit fees and impound illegal fishing gears.
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Magidu Magumba, the Chairman Jinja Beach Management Units says that they want parliament to halt the operations of the parallel fisheries enforcement officials on Lake Victoria. He also wants parliament to stop the officials from collecting fishing permit fees, issuing boat number plates and registration amongst others.
Magumba alleges that the enforcement officers have been collecting money from fishermen since 2011 with promises of delivering boat licences and number plates in vain.
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According to Magumba, the fishermen paid 250,000 shillings for acquiring a boat license and number plate and 20,000 shillings for registration. He however, accuses the fisheries officers of issuing the fishermen with fake receipts. He claims that when some of the fishermen followed up on their number plates, the law enforcement officers referred them to Minister Nankabirwa.
Magumba says that the minister could neither confirm receiving the money nor when the fishermen will receive their boat number plates, licenses and registration certificates. Nankabirwa has not yet commented as she couldn't pick our repeated calls to her cell phone. Jackson Wadanya, the Assistant Commissioner in the Department of Fisheries, says the parallel fisheries officers are operating unlawfully.
Michael Phillip Lulume Bayiga, the Buikwe South MP says that he has already tabled the complaints of the fishermen before the Parliamentary Accounts Committee and still awaits the committee’s response. BMU are legally recognised. They are responsible for the management of fisheries resources together with the local and central government and any fisheries regulation and control institution.Lake Victoria has 1078 Beach Management Units.