President Museveni promises Kalangala Fishermen

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President Yoweri Museveni has promised to establish a special component under the Operation Wealth Creation programme that will help fishermen buy quality fishing gear.

Addressing a rally at Kibanga play ground in Kalangala Town last Friday, Mr Museveni reassured voters the money allocated to Operation Wealth Creation will, starting next financial year be increased from Shs203 billion to Shs1 trillion to boost the agricultural sector.

“Mr Museveni has in the past complained of the illegal fishing methods that are used especially on Lake Victoria. At the rally, Museveni equated illegal fishing by islanders as cutting a branch of tree on which they are sitting.

“People in Kalangala have betrayed our country. In western Uganda, the balaalo (cattle keepers) do not eat calves but the people here eat young fish, which depletes fish stocks in the lake.” Museveni said. Acting on the orders of Mr Museveni, police chief Gen Kale Kayihura recently withdrew of all security officers who have been operating on lake-shore regions.

The directive mainly targeted marine force officers. The marine police is mainly supposed to check smuggling on the lake, but many have in the past been implicated in extortion of money of fishermen, corruption, connivance with fishermen to use to use illegal fishing methods, gears and trading in immature fish.

Mr Museveni also directed the investigation of police officer, beach management officers, fisheries officers and other employers of the Fisheries Department implicated by the fishermen and community members and take the necessary action against the culprits. During another rally at Kitobo landing site, Mr Museveni said he will now sit with different stakeholders and put in place a policy that would help curb illegal fishing.

Mr Jackson Wadanya, the commissioner for fisheries, said recently that the importation of illegal fishing nets, the lack of finances and the involvement of “politically connected” offenders limits enforcement and regulation by technocrats.

In Uganda, fishing exports generated $106.27 million last financial year, which was equivalent to about 6 per cent of Uganda’s total exports.

But the volumes in previous financial years were higher, and experts say there has been a consistent decline blamed on the reduction in numbers of Nile perch.

Kalangala District mainly gets its income from fishing, oil palm and tourism. Its projected local revenue is at Shs837 million for the financial year 2015/2016.

According to Mr John Okodel, the district senior finance officer, Kalangala has so far collected Shs581m from local revenue in the first half of this financial year.

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