The UPDF Fisheries Protection Unit has pardoned fishermen involved in illegal fishing and return the items it had impounded.
Boat engines, motorcycles, cars and boats were handed to the fishermen’s at the Gudda fishing site in Entebbe. The former Entebbe RDC Kankunda said on the occasion that it was wrong for the UPDF Fisheries Protection Unit to use excessive force when countering unarmed suspects.
She said the government she serves is against acts of fish-handedness, noting that returning the impounded items was symbolic of a good relationship between the government and the people.
She also strongly cautioned fishermen to avoid involvement in any form of illegalities, but rather follow fisheries law to do business on the lakes without any interference.
The Katabi Town Council Mayor Ronald Kalema Basamulekere said returning impounded items shows a collaboration between the government and the local leadership. He condemned the UPDF Fisheries Protection Unit for torturing fishermen who violate fishing procedures.
He advised the UPDF Fisheries Protection Unit to instead strongly reprimand those who are culpable of violating fisheries procedures and urged the fishermen to ensure they use the recommended nets or gears.
The commander UPDF Fisheries Protection Unit in Wakiso District, Lt. Hakim Mbaziira said they acted on a presidential directive and returned the fishermen’s property since the president pardoned them.
The items were impounded two years ago from fishing sites in Wakiso district. “To get back their property, the owners are required to present documentary proof of ownership. We have 113 boat engines, 102 boats, 4 bicycles, 17 motorcycles and 3 cars. Those without documents will be auctioned their items.
The Vice chairperson of the Federation of Fisheries Association, Elly Wasajja urged the members to desist from illegal fishing practices.
The chairperson of Bugongo fishing site, Sarah Namusoke Ddungu Ibaile commended the government for returning the impounded items. She also cautioned fellow fishermen hiding behind some top UPDF officers to perpetuate illegal fishing on major lakes, to stop the practice.
The chairman Kigungu fishing site, Fred Muluri expressed displeasure with how the UPDF Fisheries Protection Unit tortured fishermen, “Some torture victims got permanent injuries while others were rendered impotent”.
The chairman Gudda fishing site Richard Kaaya appreciated the government’s action and called for adherence to the laid down fishing protection and methods.