State minister Ruth Nankabirwa (left) sent a warning call to the fishing communities.

The ministry of agriculture is to revise the Fish Act to prevent the catching of immature fish for sale using illegal gear.

The act of catching immature fish is slowly depleting the amount of fish in several water bodies across the country.

Ruth Nankabirwa, the State Minister for Fisheries said that the revised Act contains stringent measures and tough punishments intended to deter the fishing communities from practicing illegal fishing.

She explained that with the current Act, most of those arrested and taken to court are made to pay a small fine and then move freely within the community with negligible value to the national economy.

According to the State Minister, the revision of the act directly involved President Yoweri Museveni during the just-concluded National Resistance Movement (NRM) retreat in Kyankwanzi and it is soon to be tabled in parliament.

A warning call

“Anyone found with immature fish will be arrested and jailed for seven years plus a hefty fine paid from courts of law,” Nankabirwa highlighted one of the measures contained in the new Act.

Nankabirwa revealed the plans for a revised Fish Act while presiding over at the belated NRM party celebrations of Buvuma district at Magyo grounds in Nairambi sub-county.

“I am warning those involved in catching immature fish with illegal gear. Many of you are bound to stay away from your homes for years because of the new Act,” she cautioned.

“We shall not be remorseful to anyone; be it the fishmongers, sellers or buyers.”

Beach management

During the same function, the minister also explained that the Beach Management Unit (BMU) electoral laws were not effective and just like the Fish Act, needed to be revised.

Boat owners should be more involved in the running of the BMUs because they are the majority shareholders who contribute to the fishing communities, Nankabirwa advised.

She admitted she is aware of the hardships BMU chairpersons go through but urged them to resign if they cannot effectively fight illegal fishing on Lake Victoria.

The minister directed the District Police Commander (DPC) Aggrey Mugoya to, if necessary, arrest BMU chairpersons of perpetual offending landing sites in the district so that they can make statements to reveal those involved in using the illegal gear.

A few months back, it was discovered in one of the fishing communities that some fishermen used mosquito nets to catch fish. The mosquito nets were collected and burnt by the authorities.

By Doreen Musingo, The New Vision

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