By Leilah Bbaale
The Fisheries Protection Unit-FPU has set ablaze more than 215 illegal fishing boats and 300 monofilament nets impounded from Lake Albert. The boats were destroyed in an operation conducted this week under the command of Lt. Colonel Dick Kaija, the Commandant of the Fisheries Protection Unit.
The operations covered the landing sites of Kanara, Butiaba, Bugoigo, Kijangi, Kaiso Kyehoro, Nkondo in Buliisa, Hoima, Kikuube, Kagadi and Ntoroko districts. Lieutenant Lauben Ndifula, the spokesperson of the Fisheries Protection says since the operation started early this month, they have so far destroyed 2308 boats and 15890 monofilament nets.
According to Ndifula, the operation that is ongoing is aimed at strengthening national capacities to eliminate illegal fishing activities and increase protection of transboundary resources. He says that the operations will spread to all the landing sites on Lake Albert until all illegal fishing activities are stopped.
Ndifula says all fishermen operating on Lake Albert have to acquire the recommended fishing gear.
Illegal fishing, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries involves the use of less than five-inch fishing nets for Tilapia and less than seven-inch fishing nets for Nile Perch. It also entails the use of fishing boats that are less than 20 feet in length.
The affected fishermen want the government to avail them loans to acquire the recommended fishing gear. Many of the Fishermen say that the recommended fishing boat costs more than 3.5 million Shillings while boat engines cost between Shillings 5 million and 9 million, which is too costly for them.
Christopher Tibenda, a fisherman at Kijang Landing Site in Hoima district, whose boat was destroyed, said fishing has been his only source of livelihood over the years. He says that the destruction of his boat has pushed him out of business.