By Vision Reporter
The acting commissioner for fisheries at the Ministry of Agriculture, Henry Nabbongo, says fish breeding areas and critical marine ecosystems are being destroyed by sand mining.
He has, therefore, called for the regulation of the trade in order to ensure that the aquaculture is sustainable and critical marine life is protected.
Nabbongo made the outcry today during a panel discussion during a three-day workshop convened by the water ministry, with support from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the government of Sweden in Kampala.
His call came after energy ministry senior inspector of mines David Sebagala advocated for a law to regulate the mining of sand in the country. Sebagala argued that despite there being no law to regulate sand mining, there is need for a law for sustainability.
“When you look at the extraction of sand within Lake Victoria and other water bodies, the law does not have a provision to do it in a sustainable manner,” Sebagala said.
Call for review of law
When Nabbongo asked Sebagala whether people who are extracting sand from lakes on a commercial scale are given permits, Sebagala said: “Sand is excluded from the definition of a mineral by the Constitution. So, the energy and mineral development ministry does not regulate exploitation of sand. The mining Act makes provision of its regulation if it is mined at a commercial scale and in such instances, you are looking at mining of silica sand for production of glass”.
He added that majority of the sand mining taking place is for local construction, but ideally, this mining should be regulated by the ministry because it is being done at a commercial scale despite the rudimentary methods (hoes and shovels/spades) being used.
He added that at the local government level, permits are issued to prospective sand miners, who are supposed to have environment impact assessment certificates before undertaking the exercise.
“Sand is not found on hills, it is found in swamps. So, our laws should actually provide for sustainable extraction of resources within protected areas. If we are looking at the blue economy and do not make interventions for future extraction of mineral resources from the water bodies we have, then when it happens, the effects will be dire,” Sebagala said.
Agriculture ministry Principal fisheries officer – resources management Geoffrey Dheyongera called for putting in place laws that protect critical fish habitats to ensure that they are conserved. He also called for the identification of fish habitat sites that need to be conserved and protected.