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Operations Against Illegal Fishing Register Huge Success

Lugoloobi also notes that the increase in fish stocks such as Tilapia, which grows very fast, has boosted the district local revenue collection. He explains that the district had stopped issuing Fish movement permits three years ago.
A traveller shows a tilapia he bought from children who caught it at Bugoma using hooks.
Some of the communities on the shores of Lake Victoria say the operations against illegal fishing activities have boosted the fish stock in the lake. 

Two years ago, President Yoweri Museveni instituted a Fisheries Protection Unit led by Major James Nuwagaba to stop illegal fish operations.

It came after several fishermen were implicated for using the banning fishing gears to catch immature fish. The indiscriminate fishing activities on landing sites in Kalangala, Masaka, Kyotera, Mukono, Jinja, Wakiso caused  a huge reduction in the fish yields resulting in the closure of some fish processing plants. To save the lake from depletion, Museveni instituted the task force to ensure those involved in catching immature fish for export to the Democratic Republic Congo, Central African Republic and South Sudan are arrested and prosecuted. 

This task force deployed UPDF soldiers along Lake Victoria who intensified operations against the fishermen. They also closed several landing sites on Lake Victoria such as Mutambala landing site, Kawagoonya, Kasisa and Kitobo. The UPDF soldiers raided the landing sites and set them on fire destroying them completely. Information obtained from Masaka Magistrate's Court show that over 200 people have appeared before court on offenses related to illegal fishing. At least 100 of these fishermen have been convicted and ordered to pay fines since the year begun.

The operations against illegal fishing practices seem to be paying off. The price of fish has fallen in Masaka, Kalangala and Kyotera districts due to increased supply resulting from the huge catches. A mid-size fish now goes for between Shillings 5000 and 20,000. This is a big reduction from Shillings 15,000 and 60000 two years ago. Those involved in fishing on the shores of Lake Victoria now realize a huge harvest. Our reporter saw lots of fish floating around Bugoma and Bukakata landing site. Children were seen using hooks to fish tilapia.

Joseph Mugenyi, a resident of Bugoma fished 15 tilapias on Tuesday using a hook, which he sold to travellers aboard MV Pearl. Mugenyi says the operations against illegal fishing have stopped the use of the banned fishing gears. He explains that the ban of the use of the banned fishing gears such as monofilaments, has allowed tilapia which breeds very fast to multiply in multitudes. Mugenyi says he doesn't need a fishnet to carry out fishing.

Willy Lugoloobi, the Kalangala LCV Chairman who is also the Production Secretary, notes that there is increased stock of tilapia. He says the increase has facilitated the re-opening of Mweena Ice processing plant, which had been closed due to lack of fish. He however says with increased yields, fishermen need a lot of ice to preserve their catch. 

Lugoloobi also notes that the increase in fish stocks such as Tilapia, which grows very fast, has boosted the district local revenue collection. He explains that the district had stopped issuing Fish movement permits three years ago. 

He narrates that with increase in fish stocks, they are now able to issue movement permits worth Shillings 2 million weekly. A ton of fish costs Shillings 10,000. At Fish markets at Kyabakuza, Masaka municipality, Nyendo, Kasensero, Kyotera, Lambu, fish prices have dropped drastically. Umar Luyinda, a fish monger at Kyabakuza, says they get a lot of fish supplies from many sources. 

He says initially they got fish from Lambu, but they now get fish from numerous suppliers. He says at some point their fish goes bad because of low demand. He adds that many people are not aware that prices of fish had reduced.

Maj James Nuwagaba, the Commander Fisheries Protection Unit declined to speak about the operations. The increase in fish stocks has also resurrected sport fishing on Beaches in Kalangala.

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