Security Forces Impound Illegal Fishing Gear on Lake Edward

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At least five boats and three engines have been recovered from Congolese fishermen on Lake Edward in Kasese District, thanks to an operation against illegal fishing that was mounted by security teams from Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo-DRC.

Lt Col Dick Kirya Kaija, the commander in Charge of the Fisheries Protection Unit-FPU told Uganda Radio Network in an interview on Friday that the operations were prompted by complaints from the public on the invasion of Congolese fishermen on the Ugandan waters.

He says the Congolese nationals did not have operation licenseS as a prerequisite for operating on the Ugandan large water bodies.

Col Kaija said 13 Congolese nationals were temporarily held by the forces and cautioned for illegal entry into Uganda as well as the use of illegal fishing gears on the lake. He says the operations will continue until illegal fishing activities are stopped to allow the fish stock to rejuvenate.

He also warned Ugandan fishermen that whoever is found engaging in illegal fishing practices will lose their license and landing sites where illegal fishing practices take place shall be shut down for at least three months.

In line with joint agreements between the two countries, the fishermen were repatriated to DRC. However, DRC must show the commitment to controlling her fishermen from entering Ugandan waters before their gadgets are released.

Capt. Favour Rugumayo the Public Relations Officer-PRO Marine Brigade Unit warned the Congolese from illegally entering Ugandan waters. He also warned Ugandan counterparts from aiding the fishermen.

Michael Mbusa, a fisherman at Katwe Landing Site says fisherman from DRC usually crosses into Uganda waters during night hours due to the absence of the Ugandan counterparts. The fisheries unit has maintained a nighttime curfew running from 7 pm and 6 am.

Endless clashes have persisted between Uganda and DRC fishermen resulting in loss of life and property.

Several Ugandans have also been kidnapped on Uganda –DRC border by men sometimes dressed like Congolese security forces.

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