By Malik Fahad Jjingo
Soldiers under the Fisheries Protection Unit (FPU) of the Uganda Peoples Defense Forces (UPDF) have intercepted a truck loaded with immature fish worth Shs60 million.
According to Capt. Andrew Egibu, the commander of FPU in Masaka sub-region , a truck (Canter registration number UBJ 664E) was impounded at Nakaziba fishing village, in Mpigi district on Wednesday morning following a tip-off from informers.
He said the truck was loaded with over 114 boxes with each box containing at least 600 pieces of immature Nile Perch fish which was being transported to Bunagana Town on the Uganda-DRC border.
Mr Egibu said during the same operation, they recovered an under-seized boat and fish nets, motor engine, and empty jerrycans . He says both the driver and co-driver managed to evade the arrest.
“Imagine if one mature Nile Perch can cost over 15,000 on the market then these people were carrying 144 boxes each loaded with over 600 immature fish how much do you think the country would generate from such a catch? This should be fought and reduced or even eliminated because it’s costing the country so much and this should be every citizen’s responsibility.” Capt. Egibu said in an interview on Friday
Capt. Egibu says they have developed a system to track down all those involved in trading and transporting immature fish and advised the dealers to switch to other lawful businesses.
Southern regional police spokesperson, Mr. Twaha Kasirye, said they are going to ensure that the case file is worked on and submitted to the state for sanctioning so that the runway suspects are arraigned in courts of law.
Ever since President Museveni deployed soldiers to crack down on illegal fishing on Uganda’s lakes in 2017, there has been a significant increase in fish stocks. However, the FPU soldiers have on several occasions been criticised over their high-handedness in dealing with people suspected of engaging in illegal fishing.
During FPU operations, many people suspected of selling immature fish have reportedly been tortured, some killed and several ungazetted landing sites destroyed along the shores of Lake Victoria, Kyoga and Albert.