More than 11,000 fishermen along Lake Kyoga and Lake Kwania have
remained jobless since the resumption of fishing activities.
In March 2019 the government
suspended fishing activities on Lake Kwania and Lake Kyoga
respectively on the request from Lake Kyoga Integrated Management
Organization (LAKIMO) over concerns of depletion
of fish species due to poor fishing methods.
The suspension was expected to
replenish the fish stock and enable fishermen to acquire standard fishing boats
and gears. However, the government lifted the suspension in
July 2020 but only allowed fishermen with the recommended boat sizes,
a restriction that has pushed fishermen out of business.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and
Animal Husbandry, boat owners are required to have the recommended 28
sizes of boats and fishing gears, Tax Identification Numbers and
National Identity Cards. Of the 21,764 fishermen from the 10,882 landing sites
on both Lake Kwania and Kyoga, only 10,159 are operating on the Lake.
Several fishermen across the landing sites in Kwania
district say they have failed to procure the required boat size,
which costs about 1.7 Million Shillings and the standard fishing that
costs 1 Million Shillings. The standard boat also requires an engine
which costs about 2.5 Million Shillings.
Simon Ongu, one of the fishermen who missed out among those registered
in Abei Landing Site in Chawente Sub County, says he is unable to cater for his
family after failing to resume fishing, adding that the price of the
recommended boat is high for a poor fisherman.
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Francis Okello is among hundreds of fishermen at Abali landing site that used
to rely on fishing as a livelihood but could not make it to the lake.
Okello has been operating on the lake since 2011, he says he has now
resorted to wheelbarrow pushing in Lira town to earn a living.
Jolly Joe Otim, the secretary of Chawente Fishing Community
says that the fishermen have to part with at least 8 Million Shillings to get
all the gear to resume business. He wants the government to offer soft loans to
fishermen to enable them to resume fishing.
The Kwania LCV Chairperson Geoffrey Alex Ogwal Adyebo says that
hundreds of fishermen, who have been earning a living for decades through fishing,
were left out during the registration process. He, however, says that he will
engage the government to ensure an alternative livelihood source for the
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Joyce Ikwaput, the Commissioner of Aquaculture in the
Ministry of Fisheries says that the government is in its final stage
in constructing fish ponds under the aquaculture project, an
alternative livelihood source expected to benefit the unlicensed fishermen.
"On the issue of the fish pond, the government is already in
final stages, we will soon establish a fishing processing factory in
Amolatar district that will offer employment opportunities to the local
population, and priority will be given to affected fishermen,” Ikwaput said.