Kasese, (UG):- The Uganda Fisheries Protection Unit has handed over 14 Congolese nationals who had been arrested and detained on charges of practising illegal fishing on lakes Edward and Albert.
The army had also impounded over 60 boats and engines allegedly belonging to the Congolese nationals for not complying with the Ugandan fisheries rules and regulations.
They were handed over to the Congo authorities in an event witnessed by the Kasese Resident District commissioner, Lieutenant Joe Walusimbi.
The Uganda fisheries rules and regulations necessitate that all persons already involved in fisheries activities be registered by the Fisheries Protection Unit, and the registered persons are not allowed to practise fishing without valid trading licenses.
The registration process only requires identification documents including; National Identification Cards for Nationals and passports for non-Ugandans to be presented for them to be eligible to transact fishing businesses in Uganda.
It is estimated that Uganda loses 430 million US Dollars from unregulated fishing every year. In the bid to improve and restock the lakes, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni ordered the deployment of FPU personnel on the lakes to regulate illegal fishing activities. With stringent fishing measures, that include tracking down unrecognised fishing nets, irresponsible fishing, and habitat destruction among others.
Speaking at the inter-handover ceremony, the Fisheries Protection Unit spokesperson, Lieutenant Lauben Ndifula, cited the Variant deterring laws between the two countries as being incompatible.
For example, monofilament nets (nets made from a single filament with many tiny filaments) are unrecognized in Uganda but fully recognized in the Congo. He advised fishermen to be cautious of the laws and avoid indulging in activities that are perhaps detrimental to them and the fishing sector.
Meanwhile, Congo Authorities handed over 16 boats and engines that were impounded, and four Ugandan nationals who were arrested for violating their flourishing fishing protocols.
While handing over the impounded items, Lieutenant Colonel Jean Ishongo, the in-charge Marine, Congo Kyavinonge emphasised the need to respect laws and to be obliging citizens.
He applauded the Ugandan government for the continuous friendly bilateral relationship while cautioning the Congo fellows to desist from illegal fishing as stipulated in the Ugandan fishing and protection rules and regulations.
Uganda has a flourishing bilateral relationship with Dr Congo, the latest being Operation Shuuja, which embarks on disarming the ADF rebels that have become a menace recently to Uganda and Congo.
The function was witnessed by the Kasese Resident District commissioner (RDC), Lt Joel Walusimbi in Katwe Kabatooro Town Council, Kasese district where he commended that the handover is aimed at engaging the locals, and authorities and having a lasting solution to the vice.
Speaking during the handover ceremony, the RDC strongly called upon the members to stop taking law issues for granted by following the fisheries protection rules and regulations.
Robinah Mirembe, who represented the Rubirizi RDC, an area that is largely affected by the influx of the Congolese and other illegal trading activities across the waters of Lake Albert, noted that the countries lose a lot of revenue through illegal fishing activities, something that would be avoidable.
She called upon the community members to be more vigilant and report cases of illegal fishing to the relevant authorities for further handling.
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