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Fishermen up in Arms Over New Fishing Law

By Rosette Nandutu,

Fishermen on various lakes across the country have asked President Museveni not to assent to the recently passed Fisheries legislation, describing it as unrealistic.

On May 4, Parliament passed the Fisheries and Aquaculture Bill, 2021, that, among others, prescribes a Shs40m fine or jail sentence of two years for those found selling fish without a valid fish trade licence.

The same sitting also approved the clause that anyone who is found transporting fish and its products without a valid movement permit will be slapped with either a Shs40m fine or a two-year jail sentence.

In Jinja City, fishermen at the Masese Landing Site criticised the Bill, with Mr Majid Magumba, the chairperson of the group, describing it as “unrealistic” given the fact that many fishermen don’t have the money to purchase standard fishing gear that the Bill seeks to uphold.

According to Mr Magumba, the lawmakers erred in passing the Bill without consulting them as they also accuse MPs for failing to visit fishing communities to assess the conditions of individual fishermen.

The vice chairperson of the Association of Fishers and Lake Users of Uganda, Mr Joseph Lukwago, said focus should have been put on preventing the importation of illegal fishing nets instead of introducing a Shs40m fine.

He added that the Shs40m fine will promote bribery among the law enforcement officers, some of whom will easily accept, say, a Shs10m kickback from fishermen so that they can be released without being charged, unlike the two years’ imprisonment that will separate them from their families.