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Anger as Arrested Fishermen from Eastern Are Transferred To Kampala for Prosecution

By Solomon Hamala

 

NAMAYINGO

 

Residents in the Eastern District of Namayingo have expressed anger over decision by authorities to prosecute arrested fishermen over illegal fishing habits in Kampala.

 

The residents were responding to a revelation made by the District Fisheries Officer Namayingo, Fred Igoma over the weekend that 145 fishermen had been arrested by the UPDF Lake Protection Unit and transported to Kampala for prosecution.

 

Igoma made the revelation during a ceremony in which illegal fishing gear worth Shs450 million was burnt.

 

Igoma said a total of 145 fishermen were arrested during the two week operation and transferred to Kampala to answer charges of involvement in illegal fishing habits along the shores of Lake Victoria.

 

Igoma said the decision to transfer the suspects to Kampala was reached at after realizing that most of them secure bail while in local courts within the district.

 

“Most of our politicians always interfere with investigations by threatening the presiding magistrates making it hard to curb the illegal habit,” he said.

 

Majority of the suspects who had earlier been arrested have already been charged and remanded to Kitalya government prison.

 

However, members of the public have expressed anger over the decision by the authorities to transfer suspects to places where they have not have committed the offenses.

 

According to the LC one chairman Siaka village, Buhemba sub county, Amos Wandera, its costly travelling to Kampala to seek bail of suspects arrested for involvement in illegal fishing habits.

 

“People are selling most of their properties just for the sake of travelling to Kampala to secure bail of their beloved ones,” he said.

 

Last week the Resident District Commissioner, (RDC) Mayuge, Gulume Balyeino expressed concern over the manner in which members of the Uganda people’s defense forces fish protection unit always transfer suspects arrested in Mayuge district to Kampala to answer charges related to dealing in illegal fishing habits.

Gulume Balyeino Mayuge district RDC last week said it was wrong to transfer illegal fishing suspects from Mayuge district to Kampala for prosecution

“A person should be charged in an area where an offense has been committed not elsewhere,” he said.

 

Igoma cautioned parents against leaving their children to operate illegal boats and gear saying they have on several occasions fallen prey to arrests by the Fisheries Protection Unit thus rotting in jail.

 

“Most of the suspects are children below the age of 16 who are supposed to in school studying but due to poor parental guidance, end up in this fishing business,” he said.

 

Meanwhile the burnt illegal fishing gear had earlier this year been impounded by the Uganda People’s Defense Force Fish Protection Unit from the sub counties of Dolwe, Bukana, Mutumba and Buhemba .

 

The illegal fishing gear was burnt at the Namayingo district headquarters during a ceremony witnessed by security personnel and members of the public.

 

He said some of the burnt illegal fishing gear included under size gill nets (illuminati), monofilaments(Bugulubu), Kokota, Tupa Tupa, Omochi, commonly used by Kenyan fishermen for sliver fish(Mukene).

 

The officer in charge Namayingo Central Police Station, Richardson Arop said 200 under size boats popularly known as Bawo Tatu that were impounded recently are to also be destroyed later in the week.

 

Arop urged fishermen to always avoid engaging in illegal fishing habits and instead buy required gear like gillnet number 7 for tilapia or gillnet 5 for Nile perch.

 

The Resident District Commissioner Namayingo, Thomas Mbigiti said the increased operations conducted by the Uganda people’s defense force fish protection unit along the shores of Lake Victoria had drastically increased the fish catch for consumption both locally and internationally.

 

Mbigiti urged members of the public to always report fishermen involved in illegal fishing habits to relevant authorities as a way of eradicating the vice.

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