Fish dealers in Bunyangabu district are raising concerns and facing financial setbacks after the Fisheries Protection Unit (FPU) of the army confiscated and incinerated approximately 700kg of what they deemed to be immature fish. The operation took place during a massive crackdown on the sale of immature fish at Rwimi Market in Rwimi town council.
The FPU, responsible for safeguarding fisheries and marine resources, aims to prevent illegal fishing activities, enforce fishing regulations, and ensure the sustainable management of aquatic ecosystems. The operation led to the confiscation of all fish considered immature, defined as below 20 inches in length.
Expressing their frustration, fish traders claimed that they had used loans to purchase the confiscated fish and now fear losing their property to the banks due to difficulties in repaying the loans. One trader, Margret Kabbyanga, disclosed that her 2.5 bags of fish, worth Sh4.7 million, were confiscated – a purchase made through a commercial bank loan.
Betty Mugisa, a mother of five, stated that they bought the fish without realizing it was immature, expressing their inability to discern its size when found in the market.
The fish traders and residents criticized the FPU for not addressing the issue of immature fishing at the landing sites, instead disrupting businesses at the market where traders may be unaware of recommended fish sizes.
FPU’s Lt. Moris Tibamanya, in charge of the Kasese-Fort Portal highway, urged fish traders and residents to collaborate with authorities to combat illegal fishing, emphasizing the importance of fish revenue for the country’s development. He clarified that the burning of confiscated immature fish aligns with legal requirements to deter further engagement in its trade.
George William Rwabuhesi, the fisheries officer of Bunyangabu, noted the challenge of sensitizing traders on proper fishing practices, highlighting the absence of official registrations for fish traders in the area.