Mityana seeks to stop fishing on Lake Wamala for six months

Fishermen at Butebi Landing Site in Mityana District, one of the areas which has been affected by the floating islands. PHOTO | BARBRA NALWEYISO 

What you need to know:

  • Mr Yasin Bbira, the district natural resources officer, told Daily Monitor  at the weekend that fish has drastically reduced in the past 10 years, leaving fishermen and dealers unemployed.

Leaders in Mityana District have proposed a six-month fishing holiday starting June to replenish the fish stock in Lake Wamala.

Mr Yasin Bbira, the district natural resources officer, told Daily Monitor at the weekend that fish has drastically reduced in the past 10 years, leaving fishermen and dealers unemployed.

For instance, some landing sites such as Katiko, Gombe, and Lusalira, which used to be a beehive of activity,  are no longer operational.

“For the past 10 years, fish stock have been declining due to over fishing, and we believe that if a six-month fishing holiday is enforced, it will help in breeding,” Mr Bbira said .

He said the holiday will also apply to Gomba and Kassanda districts, which  share the lake.

“We are going to write to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries to inform them about our plan. We are also imploring our counterparts in Gomba and Kassanda to support the move,” Mr Bbira added.

Mr Elijah Ssenyonjo, the district fisheries officer, said they are currently sensitising fishermen and preparing them to stop their operations.

“Given the size of the lake, only 250 fishermen could be the ones allowed to operate, but we have more than 3,000 people and the only way to reduce this high population is to close the lake for some time,” he said.

Mr Ssenjonjo said all fishermen will be assessed and only those with licences, recommended boats and fishing gear will be allowed to operate after the holiday.

 “We are working with marine police to prepare the fishermen on how to survive during the six months. We also plan to introduce aquaculture to those who can afford it,” he added.

Mr Kasirye Zimula, the chairperson Kassanda, said they are ready to support the move if it is a directive from the Ministry of Agriculture.

“We can obey and implement if it is a directive from the ministry, but if it is an arrangement from our counterparts in Mityana, it will be difficult to enforce,” he said.

Mr Ben Kiddu, the Gomba fisheries officer,  urged all the districts sharing the lake to sensitise residents before sealing off the lake.

“We have to first consider how these people will survive without fishing. If government through the Prime Minister’s Office can provide food to them, that will be good, but without any practical interventions, enforcement will fail,” he said.

Mr Tom Bukenya, the commissioner in charge of regulation control quality assurance at the Ministry of Agriculture, advised the districts to seek guidance from the government.  “A fishing holiday is good, but cannot be implemented without authorisation from the ministry. Let them write to us officially, we will look into it and advice on how best to enforce it,” Mr Bukenya said.

Fishing on Lake wamala

According to a report by Fish Stock Assessment Team, which was commissioned by National Fisheries Resources Research Institute (NaFIRRI) in 2012, Lake Wamala has 26 gazetted landing sites and about 600 fishermen with a similar number of boats.

A total of 16 landing sites are in Mityana, while Gomba and Kassanda have five landing sites each.

However, the report states that the lake has poor socio-economic infrastructure compared to other lakes probably due to its geo-morphological setting. Available records indicate that fishermen mainly use gillnets targeting Tilapia (Ngege) and long line hooks which trap Mamba (protperus) and, Male (Clarias).

The report shows that 97 percent of the gill nets on the lake are small stretched mesh size, while 98 percent of the hoots are large.

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