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Fishermen Appeal to MPs on Boat Size Requirement

The Uganda Fisheries & Fish Conservation Association Chairman Seremos Kamuturaki told MPs that using a 28 feet boat is very problematic because different lakes have different sizes to accommodate all the fishermen. He says that some lakes are deeper than the others whereas others are shallow too shallow to accommodate the size of the boat prescribed by the Fish Act.
Fishing boats at Bugoma landing site in Kyangwali sub county Kikuube district.Photo by Emmanuel Okello.

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The Uganda Fisheries & Fish Conservation Association have appealed to Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture to review the current guideline that limits them to using boats measuring 28 feet.

The Fisheries Protection Unit announced that only boats with the interior overall length of 28 feet would be registered as recommended by the Fish Act but fishermen and their leaders have since protested the guideline which they say does not apply to all lakes on the basis of the water levels and cost of acquisition.

Now, led by their Association Chairperson, Kamuturaki Seremos, the fishermen formally presented their query to the Committee on Friday when they appeared to present views on  the Fisheries and Aquaculture Bill, 2021 that is currently being scrutinized by the committee.

The Bill was recently tabled before Parliament and seeks to consolidate and reform the law relating to the management of fisheries products and aquaculture due to a number of challenges and emerging issues in the regulation and management of the sector which are not addressed.

During the Law Revision of 2000, the Country's laws were reorganized and the Fish and Crocodile Act became the Fish Act, which was further amended in 2011 to provide for the establishment of the Fisheries Fund and to permit the retention and use of fees received by the Chief Fisheries Officer from the issuance of licenses, permits and other activities for development and management of the sector.

However, the government says that these amendments were not comprehensive enough to fully address all challenges facing the fisheries sector because they only focused on licenses, the introduction of currency points and retention of funds.

Kamuturaki told MPs that using a 28 feet boat is very difficult because different lakes have different sizes to accommodate all the fishermen. He says that some lakes are deeper than the others whereas others are shallow to accommodate the size of the recommended boat size by the current Fish Act.

  He also told MPs that the fishermen are too poor to buy engines to mount on such big boats.

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  The Association also proposed the establishment of an independent Ministry of Fisheries to avoid the marginalization of the fishing sector which plays a big role in Uganda's economy.

 

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Atim Agnes, the Deputy Chairperson of the Committee says her committee is anxiously waiting for the Minister of Agriculture and the budget. She said that the committee is also interested in the fisheries sector budget allocation.

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Other Provisions in the Bill

  The new Bill is proposing the licensing and registration of fishing vessels and fishers, control and regulation of all fisheries and aquaculture production activities and practices, methods of fishing and fishing gear, establishment and regulation of lake management organizations and gazetting of landing sites, provide for fish breeding and regulation of fish feeds and others.

Government also proposes the establishment of a Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Committee which will ensure that fisheries resources are managed and also advise the Minister on effective planning, financing and coordination of the sector. The Committee is proposed to serve under the Directorate of Fisheries Resources.

The bill further proposes the appointment of a Chief Fisheries Officer by the Public Service Commission charged with gazetting of landing sites and issuing vessel, boat licenses, fish movement permits and fishing gear manufacturing licenses.  

During the 2021 election campaigns, President Yoweri Museveni said that the government had finalized a master plan to develop the fishing industry.

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