There are approximately 56,000 fishermen on Lake Albert who harvest more than 100,000 tons of fish per year. But the Fisheries Protection Unit launched a massive crackdown on illegal fishing gear in August and has never ceased its operation against those involved in illegal Fishing since then.
The Uganda Fisheries & Fish Conservation Association Chairman Seremos Kamuturaki told MPs that using a 28 feet boat is very problematic because different lakes have different sizes to accommodate all the fishermen. He says that some lakes are deeper than the others whereas others are shallow too shallow to accommodate the size of the boat prescribed by the Fish Act.
According to Ndifula, the operations that are ongoing are aimed at strengthening national capacities to eliminate illegal fishing activities and increase the protection of transboundary resources. He says that the operations will spread to all the landing sites on Lake Albert until all illegal fishing activities are stopped.
The seven suspected militiamen, four of them dressed in the DRC military uniform, placed several fishermen at gunpoint and ordered them to surrender their fishing gear. After executing their mission, they crossed to the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to Ethien Arua, one of the affected fishermen.
The injured fishermen are Seremos Byaruhanga, Robert Amukuhikirize and Deo Busobozi, all attached to Nsunzu B landing site in Buhuka Parish Kyangwali sub county, Kikuube district. They were shot and injured at around 5a.m near the Senjojo landing site in Buhuka parish.
The deceased fishermen have only been identified as AJaruva and Richard both attached to Bugoma landing site in Buhuka parish Kyangwali sub county in Kikuube district. The incident happened on Saturday evening at around 5p.m.
Julius Hakiza, the Albertine Region Police Spokesperson says that the suspected Congolese militiamen that were dressed in DRC military uniform raided the lake and placed several fishermen at gunpoint, and ordered them to surrender the boats to them.
Robert Ocan, the chairman of eleven landing sites on Lake Kyoga said that if the government had relaxed on impounding the illegal fishing gears, over 300 fishermen using small boats would have been lost by now. He asked the Government to support those surrendering the illegal fishing gears with small loans to purchase the recommended fishnets and boats.
The fisheries protection unit-FPU was Tuesday invited to come and burn the illegal fishing gears.
Some of the abducted Ugandan fishermen are currently being held at the Tchomia Landing Site, Bunia district in the Eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. But their colleagues at Kaiso Landing Site are now asking Ugandan authorities to engage their counterparts in the DRC for their release.
Fred Mujuni, the chairperson of Kaiso landing site fishing community told Uganda Radio Network in an interview on Monday afternoon that all the four-armed Congolese militiamen put the fishermen at gunpoint before ordering them to surrender all the fishing gear in their possession. They later crossed with them to DRC.