Kalangala Bans Rwandan Fishermen

1858 Views Kalangala, Uganda

In short
Paul Ndagizimaana, a Rwandan fisherman says they were never given any notice before their activities were banned.

Kalangala district has banned more than 200 Rwandan fishermen at Kasekulo landing site for engaging in illegal fishing practices. Jackson Baguma, the Kalangala District Fisheries Officer, says they decided to ban the Rwandan fishermen after advising to them to stop the illegal fishing practices in vain.

He says Rwanda banned the use of beach saines, monofilaments and ordinary bulbs and wonders why the Rwandan fishermen find it convenient to use them in Kalangala. Baguma says all fishermen were advised to use pressure lamps to provide light while fishing at night in vain. "Bulbs produce too much light that distract the fish breeding system, while the monofilaments don't allow premature fish to escape," he said. 

According to Baguma, they also confiscated and destroyed illegal fishing nets, unspecified number of bulbs of 400 and 250watts, 80 boats and other equipment worth over Shillings 150 million. It is alleged that some of the leaders of landing sites pocket bribes from fishermen to allow them to continue using illegal fishing gears. Edward Kaweesi, the Chairperson Kasekulo Landing Site, denies the accusations and blames the mess on the laxity in the fisheries department.

He says they reported the influx of foreign nationals at Kasekulo landing site to the District chairperson and fisheries department but nothing was done giving room for the illegal practices to continue unabated. According to Kaweesi, the Rwandan fishermen were expelled from Kiyindi landing site over similar fishing practices before they relocated to Kasekulo landing site.

Willy Lugoloobi, the Kalangala District LC 5 Chairman, says the district council unanimously approved the ban of the Rwandan fishermen on Wednesday after consultations with all relevant departments. Lugoloobi adds that they discovered that over 180 fishermen entered Uganda without proper documentation supporting their stay and fishing on Ugandan lakes.

He says they intend to liaise with immigration authorities to verify how the fishermen entered Uganda without proper documents. Richard Musisi, the Kalangala District Police Commander, says they warned the Rwandan fishermen without fishing permits to stop their operations in vain.  He vowed to continue with their operations until the illegal fishermen are stopped.

But Agnes Zalwango, a prominent fishmonger, expressed their frustration with the operations, saying most of them have been hiring their boats to the Rwandan fishermen who pay well compared to their Ugandan counterparts. The Rwandan community has protested the ban on their activities and appealed to the district to give them ample time to make some money to start other businesses.

Paul Ndagizimaana, a Rwandan fisherman says they were never given any notice before their activities were banned. He explains that the operation only targeted Rwandan fishermen instead of all fishermen. Akileo Mukahirwa, a father of three children, says he invested more than 500,000 Shillings to buy the Osram bulbs, which were burnt leaving him jobless. Faith Muziranenge says her family is struggling to survive since her husband is now jobless.


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