Saturday, 13 July 2013

Congolese drain L. Edward of fish

The relationship between Ugandan fishermen and their Congolese counterparts on Lake Edward has continued to deteriorate necessitating government intervention.
Local fishermen say their counterparts have depleted fish stocks in the Ugandan waters.
The Kisenyi Beach Management Unit general secretary, Mr Yokonia Baluku, tells the Saturday Monitor that the Congolese have become a ‘nightmare’ because of their fishing methods.
“They camp in the lake for months even years with sub-standard nets. Unless the government restricts them from coming this side, we shall soon have no fish,” Mr Baluku says.
He says they have tried to establish a good working relationship with the Congolese but in vain, adding that delegations have been exchanged at local levels but they have not heeded to the agreements.
The Katuguru LC3 chairperson, Mr Swalley Kabuye, says due to the reduction of fish stocks, people use rigorous effort to catch fish.
Mr Kabuye says sometimes fishermen make losses because they come back empty handed.
He also said their fishermen have been sensitised about the law when they going fishing.
“They use the recommended size of the nets. We have tried to restrict the number of boats on this lake. But due to the continued instability and lack of law in DR Congo, the impact is hitting us hard,” The LC3 chairperson says.
Mr Ibrahim Katongole, a fish monger, says he has been assaulted twice by the Congolese fishermen.
He also accuses the Congolese fishermen of impounding his two boats and nets.
According to Mr Baluku, they have recorded more than 50 cases involving attacks on Uganda fishermen by their Congolese counterparts on the lake within less than year.
It is estimated that Uganda has got only 25 per cent of the lake while Congo takes 75 per cent.
Ugandans have got only 250 boats while Congolese are estimated to have more than 1,000 boats.
There are four landing sites on the Ugandan side, including Kazinga, Kisenyi, Kashaka and Katunguru.
Challenges
On several occasions, the department of fisheries at Rubirizi District has arrested Congolese fishermen, who are later released when taken to court.
The district fisheries officer, Mr Anthony Rubeihayo, says it is disappointing and a waste of resources.
“We have tried our best to arrest and take these people to court, but when we reach there, they are just deported without any charge,” Mr Rubeihayo says.