Activists protest burning of fish boats, nets by UPDF Fisheries Protection Unit in Pakwach

Pakwach, (UG):- A sizeable number of local leaders, fishermen and activists on Friday, February 9, 2024, stormed the streets of Pakwach District to express their enrage at the ruthless and savage actions of the UPDF marine fisheries protection unit personnel on the Albert Nile.

The protestors were representing the views of people from the landing sites and fishing villages in Panyimur, Dei, Pawor and Wadelai subcounties in the Northern Uganda district.

According to the aggrieved fishermen, the Fisheries Protection Unit resorted to burning boats and fishnets that punch below the required set standards and measures aimed at preserving the aquatic resources to minimize indiscriminate fishing on the water bodies and the eventual increments in revenue from the export of fish for Uganda.

The fishermen and fish mongers in the district who had been freely conducting businesses in this sector are now feeling the hard pinch of the enforcement as they are pushed to the unprecedented termination of their economic activities translating into hurdles in obtaining and sustaining their basic human needs and responsibility as what was a source of livelihood is stealthily accessed and has since become a trap that fetches penalities once apprehended.

Mr Moses Wacal who spoke to DailyExpress on Friday denounced the burning of boats, fishnets and apprehension of fishermen while noting the illegal extortion of money by UPDF Fisheries protection unit personnel in Pakwach district.

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“We appreciate the initiative to conserve the fish but the procedures of implementing the guidelines are what we are enraged at, the burning of boats, fishnets, arrests and extortion of money from fishermen without any directives on the required modern equipment,” Wacal told this publication in an exclusive interview.

The enforcement by the UPDF marine fisheries protection unit has to date driven out of business, a multitude of Fishermen, fishmongers and other players in the fish market not only in Pakwach district and that has created widespread negative multiplier effects on their dependants in terms of provision of food, school fees, healthcare services because of the unplanned alternative source of livelihood for the fishermen and subsidized costs of the required fishing equipment such as motor boats, standard gauge nets with floats among others to speedup processes of transition and adoption of the measures.

Mr. Norbert Jakisa, a youth activist sounded the grievances of the fishing communities in Pakwach, saying verbatim,”…government leave us alone if you can not feed and educate us our nets are being burnt fishermen arrested we are seeing our people suffering this is the only source of income we have as people of Pakwach.”

It’s against this backdrop that activists and a few other concerned community members who staged the protest in Pakwach district are seeking to avert the impeding social and economic challenges being created to affect the livelihood of people in the fishing communities.

Mr Emmanuel Rwothongeyo, a political activist proclaimed unity as a requisite to achieve tranquillity against the Fisheries protection unit and rallied the Borns of Pakwach district in the diaspora to support the cause.

“…you grew up studying they paid your fees through fishing activities today if they want to stop us burning our boats take people’s money through corruption in this kind of fake ways we shall not tolerate it if you don’t act no vote for you,” Rwothongeyo remarked sarcastically.

However, by the time of publishing this story, Efforts to obtain a response from the spokesperson or commander of the UPDF marine fisheries protection unit of the Albert Nile were still abortive.

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President Museveni instated the UPDF Fisheries Protection Unit in 2017 to combat indiscriminate and illegal fishing on all the water bodies in Uganda to preserve the stocks of fish so that the government can generate more money from the export of fish whose returns from the world markets had been so fascinating.

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