President Yoweri Museveni has rejected a petition by Isabaruuli Constantine Mwogezi Butamanya, the cultural leader of Buruuli Chiefdom to stop operations against illegal fishing practices on Lake Kyoga. In 2017, Museveni deployed 12 soldiers under the Fisheries Protection Unit on Lake Kyoga to combat illegal fishing practices.
It followed an unprecedented increase in illegal fishing practices on Lake Kyoga, leading to the depletion of the fish stock. The team, which is led by Major Benon Namanya, has impounded several unworthy boats, immature fish, vehicles and motorcycles used to transport immature fish from Lake Kyoga.
However, the Isabaruuli Constantine Mwogezi Butamanya wants President Museveni to stop the operations. While commemorating his 14th Coronation Anniversary at Lwabyata sub county headquarters in Nakasongola district on Monday, Isabaruuli appealed to President Museveni to stop the operations against illegal fishing until they are streamlined.
He said fishermen are crying because of the harsh treatment by the soldiers who impound their boats on flimsy grounds, which has plunged them into poverty. Isabaruuli also noted that the operations are discriminatory because they are only conducted on the side of Nakasongola leaving fishermen in the other districts around Lake Kyoga to operate freely.
In his response, President Museveni who was Chief Guest at the coronation anniversary celebrations said eating immature fish is wrong and equated it to a pastoralist who eats a calf forgetting about the benefits of a grown cow.
Recently, Sam Kigula, the chairperson Lake Kyoga Integrated Management Organization, an umbrella body for all districts that share the Lake said fishermen had taken advantage of the inadequate number of soldiers on the lake to carry on with illicit fishing.
Kigula said they had petitioned President, Museveni for additional deployment given the fact that the Lake is shared by 11 districts. Kigula disclosed that around 350 soldiers were undergoing training ahead of deployment to address the challenge.
During the anniversary, President Museveni pledged to inject Shillings 250 million in chiefdom SACCO and a new vehicle for Isabaruuli following his complaint that the vehicle offered to him in 2004 is very old.