By Godfrey Ojore
The state minister for fisheries Hellen Adoa has accused the fisheries Protection Unit forces deployed on the lakes to guard against illegal fishing for extorting local fishermen.
Government has deployed both The Uganda Peoples Defense Forces and the Uganda police on the major lakes and rivers with the aim of mitigating the cases of illegal fishing that has seen fishermen catch immature fish as well as using illegal fishing gear.
However, Adoa has revealed that the forces meant to protect the lakes have turned against their mandate by extorting money from the fishermen using illegal fishing gear, an issue she said encourages the use of illegal fishing gears in the lakes.
“They charge fishermen they catch with illegal fishing gear sh300,000 and above but what is more annoying is that once they charge the fishermen who they arrest with illegal fishing gear, the officers return illegal fishing gear to the culprits,” Adoa said.
Adoa was speaking to fishermen on Lake Kyoga at Pacoto landing site in Kateta sub-county during the launch of the construction of a 13.7KM road linking the landing site and Serere district.
Adoa claimed that the forces connive with the lake management teams to extort money from the poor fishermen.
“I have informed the president about this bad act where I called upon him to help me fight these bad practices in our lakes,” Adoa said.
Fishing sector is one of the leading foreign earners in the country but the sector is grappling with challenges of illegal fishing that threaten the fish.
The fisheries protection units have in the past been accused for allegedly unfair prosecution of fishermen using illegal fishing practices.