Fishermen condemn FPU for returning impounded fish gear in a sorry state

Fishermen in Kalangala district have faulted the Fisheries Protection Unit-FPU for returning to them their impounded fish gear in a sorry state. It follows a decision by FPU to hand back 89 boat Engines and over 90 boats that were impounded in 2017 during operations on illegal fishing activities on Lake Victoria. 

The impounded fishing gears were kept for 4 years at Mwenna Fish Processing Plant, the main base of FPU operations in Kalangala Town Council. Fishermen have over the years petitioned FPU to return their impounded gears.  

Recently, the government directed the FPU to return the impounded materials to the fishermen. However, the fishermen say the returned fishing materials can no longer be used because of their sorry condition.

  They also say some of the boat engines deserve to be sold as scrap since some parts are missing. Eriya Mukasa, a fisherman from Mazinga says his engine was impounded in 2017 and the boat burnt.  He explains that despite receiving the Engine, he has nowhere to start from. 

  Mukasa says, “I also need over Shillings 20 million to start again, which I can’t raise in this period”. Ismail Bulime, a fisherman from Misonzi narrates that he has left his impounded boat to FPU officers for can no longer be used. 

Joseph Lubega, the LC 1 Chairperson Mwena Landing site has appreciated the work of FPU since 2017. He appealed to politicians who condemn the officers while enforcing laws to concentrate on their political issues and leave the army to play their roles as assigned. 

In the 2015 campaigns, leaders in Kalangala appealed to President Museveni to assign military officers to fight illegal fishing methods.  The government introduced the Fisheries Protection Unit on Lake Victoria in 2017.   The operation led to an increase in the revenue from the fisheries sector from Shillings 400 million to UGX 2.7 Billion in 2020, according to the Kalangala Fisheries Department report.