Lake Kyoga Fisheries Officers Accused of Re-selling Impounded Fish Nets

2456 Views Nakasongola, Uganda

In short
At least four fisheries enforcement officers on Lake Kyoga are in trouble for reportedly re-selling impounded illegal fishing gears and extortion during their operations.

At least four fisheries enforcement officers on Lake Kyoga are in trouble for reportedly re-selling impounded illegal fishing gears and extortion during their operations.

The fisheries enforcement officers were tasked to control illegal fishing practices on the lake and arrest those involved, but their actions seem to weigh down their responsibilities.

In three separate petitions submitted to state minister for fisheries Ruth Nankabirwa on Monday, local leaders and fishermen in Nakasongola have demanded for dismissal of the in-charge Julius Luyima and other three staff for alleged extortion and re-selling the items impounded during the operations.

Other enforcement officers include Walusimbi Musisi attached to Ninga landing site, John Byansi and another one only identified as Odoi attached to Moone landing site.

James Orobo, a local leader at Namasale landing site, says that Julius Luyima and his staff also impose a fine of 100,000 shillings on the fishermen caught in possession of illegal fish nets and immature fish.

Orobo explains that on Monday he caught the enforcement officers asking for a bribe from a fish vendor who was transporting immature fish in a taxi and he blocked the deal.

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Jasper Kaweesi, the chairman of Beach Management Units in Lwabyata Sub County, says that if the officers fail to extort money from fishermen, they impound illegal fishnets and immature fish but later they resell the items to fish vendors in other landing sites.

Nsubuga Mukasa, a fishmonger at Lwampanga landing site, says that the enforcement officers use brutal force while carrying out their operations and threaten to throw fishermen in the lake. He adds that they also confiscate other items including phones and disappear with them yet they are not related to illegal fishing.

Mukasa says that the fisheries ministry is responsible for the misconduct of enforcement officers because they don't pay them and have resorted to extortion to survive.

He adds that they petitioned Nakasongola district fisheries officer, David Nsamba, to investigate the officers but no action was taken. Mukasa says that they have resolved to petition Minister Nankabirwa to address the problem.

Luyima, the in-charge Lake Kyoga Western region fisheries Enforcement officers, however, denied the accusations and described them as malicious.
 
Minister Nankabirwa confirmed receiving numerous complaints against the enforcement officers and promised to investigate the matter and take administrative action.

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Nankabirwa said that the ministry is planning to introduce independent fisheries police unit to fight illegal fishing and address allegations of extortion against the enforcement officers.

In July 2012, a fishmonger at Kamuli landing site on Lake Kyoga identified as Emmanuel Komakech drowned and died while trying to evade arrest by the enforcement officers.

 

About the author

Brian Luwaga
Since Brian Luwaga joined Uganda Radio Network in 2011, he is still amazed how, "URN is a place that gives journalists a chance to enhance their skills . It gives a journalist an opportunity to adopt and master various aspects of journalism that include radio broadcast, social media, photography and television production."

A practicing journalist since 2009, first with Star FM, Luwaga has always been keen to write about the concerns of the "common person." Based for much of his career in Luweero, Luwaga takes it as a compliment if politicians complain that his reporting is too harsh.

In his journalism, Luwaga likes to merge the past with the present. He believes you cannot understand what is happening now, if you do not have a grounding in the past. Brian Luwaga is the Luweero URN bureau chief. Nakasongola, Nakaseke, Mityana, Mubende and Wakiso districts fall under his docket.

Luwaga is interested in humanitarian work and is a keen Rotarian.