PAKWACH. The state minister for fisheries has issued a three week ultimatum to all fishing communities along Ugandan lakes to have their details registered with the government for easy planning.
Ms Hellen Adoa who was speaking to the fishing community and Pakwach district leaders in Dei and Panyimur on Friday said the arrangement is a tool geared towards lobbying for a special fund from the government to the fishing sector to eliminate usage of illegal fishing gears by the fishermen.
"As a mean to boost revenue and market expansion as a ministry, we want a special fund be ring-fenced to fishing just like other sectors so that whenever gov't is purchasing cows, cassava stalks under operation wealth creation, the same be done to buy recommended fishing nets and boats for the fishing community, we have resolved that all you have three weeks to register", Adoa said.
"I will cause the arrest of those faking list before the President sacks me, I would have dealt with you, this is not aimed to benefit relatives and leaders of the rich at the expense of the real beneficiaries", Odoa warned.
Adoa’s visit follows the outcry from the fishermen along Panyimur and Dei along Lake Albert in Pakwach where the fishery protection Unit under the commander Lt Col Dick Kirya Kaija launched an operation and torched 140 boats in August.
According to Pakwach district fishery department, this has left an estimated 7972 people directly engaged in fishing activity redundant.
They say it has also led to a reduction in annual catch of 60755 and annual gross revenue of shs 106billion to Pakwach district local government.
Mr Michael Oloya, the Pakwach district senior fisheries officer said the district lacks enough manpower to man the 65 landing sites with only six members of the department.
He said this specialized capital will help the fishermen to diversify to other fishing technologies such as fish cage farming and tank farming using small irrigation.
The fishing community wants the ministry to expedite the legal framework for establishment of fish landing sites’ leadership for effective registration after the fishermen accused some beach management chairperson of conspiracy to extort money from them.
While presenting a petition on behalf of the fishing community in Pakwach district, Mr Alfred Simon Okoya explained that the ministry must assess the validity of the proposed fishing requirement insisting that the National requirement may not resonate with smaller lakes.
"Minister, we appreciate the proposed plan for government to buy the recommended fishing gears through the specialized fund, but our worry is that some of those needs for fishermen in lake Victoria may not be the same to the one in Dei in Albert, so review the process before imposing it on us", Okoya stressed.
However, Mr Tom Bukenya, the commissioner regulator quality control in the ministry appealed to the community to first embrace the system of compulsory registration as the new laws regarding fishing are in the offing.
"We're still dependent on the old law in handling the size of boats and related fishing gears, we therefore want to appeal to the district fishery officers to help in the facilitation to help in this process and this will also help to eliminate the alleged harassment by the Congolese militia", Bukenya emphasized
Fishing community has appealed to the ministry for protection against confiscation of their fishing equipment and immature fish that ends up in the markets by the fishing protection Unit thus abusing the system.