President Yoweri Museveni has returned the Fisheries & Aquaculture Bill, 2021 for Parliament’s reconsideration.
Speaker Anita Among has informed the House that the President returned the bill on two major grounds that is; on the definition of licensing officer & the roles of the surveillance unit.
According to the accompanying letter dated August 18, the President argued that the Bill defines the chief licensing officer as or a district licensing officer which is likely to cause confusion and can be the ground for multi practice.
The President also argued that the Bill domiciles the surveillance Unit under the Police Force instead of being under the UPDF and Police.
He said the Unit should be housed under the two institutions due to sophisticated ways involved in illegal fishing.
Fisheries & Aquaculture Bill, 2021 was passed on May 13 2022.
Among sent the returned Bill to the Committee for re-processing specifically addressing the grey areas raised by the President.
The Bill stipulates measures to address destructive fishing practices, illicit fish trade and invasion of water bodies by aquatic weeds.
The Bill further penalizes use of poisons or any act that disturbs, injures, kills or detrimentally affects any fish spawning ground including aquatic plant or animals in fishing waters. It also penalizes placing of any pollutants or washing them into the fishing waters or any water body.
The Bills also proposes penalties for unlawful seizure of prohibited fishing gear or vessel, counterfeit fishing licenses, impersonating fisheries officers, fisheries officers soliciting bribes and others.
The bill also proposes penalties for unlawful seizure of prohibited fishing gear or vessels, counterfeit fishing licenses, impersonating fisheries officers, fisheries officers soliciting bribes and others. Punishment for these offences’ ranges from imprisonment for one to 10 years or payment of a fine between shs60 to sh200m.
During the 2021 election campaigns, President Yoweri Museveni said that government had finalized a master plan to develop the fishing industry.
The current law provides for a general penalty of a jail term not exceeding two years for anyone who contravenes its provisions.
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 said the 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.
The bill proposes 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.