Fishermen along Lake Edward have expressed concerns about the intrusion by individuals from the Democratic Republic of Congo. In a conversation with www.mknewslink.com, Mr. Kiiza Abdu, the community’s chairperson, appealed to the Ugandan government for equitable treatment of Ugandan and Congolese fishermen.
He reminisced about a time when both groups were treated without bias, urging authorities to uphold this fairness by addressing violations through legal channels.
Mr. Abdu highlighted that instances of improper fishing by Ugandans often result in their boats being confiscated for a considerable period, sometimes up to two months. In contrast, he questioned why Congolese individuals apprehended for similar violations are promptly released. He lamented the situation where the meager resources possessed by Ugandan fishermen are being shared with their Congolese counterparts, as Uganda holds only 25% of the lake’s fishing rights while Congo enjoys 75%
Ms Kyomuhendo Annet, serving as the chairperson of Fisheries at Rwenshama Landing site, revealed that the community benefits from a fleet of 60 boats provided by the Ugandan government, in addition to 40 owned collectively. She acknowledged the collaborative efforts between the Ugandan marine forces and Congolese counterparts. Annet appealed to the government to encompass the community in its various developmental initiatives such as Parish development modalities, Youth livelihood programs, NAADS, among others.
Ms Kyomuhendo commended the marine forces for their diligent efforts in repelling Congolese fishermen from Ugandan waters. While they successfully deter some, she acknowledged that there remain instances of misconduct among both groups.
According to Capt. Ankunda Julius, the Commander in charge of Fisheries Protection, the interference by Congolese fishermen adversely affects Ugandan counterparts due to the scarcity of fish in the shared waters.
He acknowledged the challenges faced in maintaining a balance and ensuring adequate fish stocks for Ugandan fisheries. Capt. Ankunda refuted claims of corruption within the marine forces involving Congolese fisheries.
The situation along Lake Edward remains complex, with Ugandan fishermen seeking fair treatment and equitable access to the lake’s resources. As the authorities work to address these concerns, it is imperative to strike a balance between preserving the marine ecosystem and fostering harmonious relations between the two neighboring nations.