Ugandan fish traders have agreed to harmonize fisheries standards in order to ease the recent controversies arising from transportation of immature fish.
This follows a November 5 meeting chaired by Hellen Adoa, the state minister for Fisheries, involving Ugandan licensed fish traders, writes ERNEST JJINGO.
In the meeting, it was agreed by all parties to adhere to sustainable fisheries practices for sustained livelihoods and this would start with the registration of fish traders.
“Uganda has a low-hanging fruit in the fisheries subsector that we can take advantage of as our economy recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic,” Adoa said.
She encouraged the traders and other stakeholders to embrace sustainable fisheries management practices and to adhere to standards for smooth regulatory operations within the EAC.
Adoa also said Uganda would uphold its part of the EAC protocols on fisheries under her political guidance to enable Uganda gain as much as it should from the fisheries subsector by adhering to market standards and gaining entry to new markets. Fisheries contribute four percent of the national GDP.
The meeting followed a recent crackdown by Ugandan fish inspectors on illegal fishing activities affecting the quality of Uganda’s fish on the global market. The case in point involved impounding of four Ugandan trucks carrying immature fish at Mpondwe border post destined for DR Congo on grounds of carrying immature fish.
Court later ordered for the disposal of the immature fish. This, however, did not go well with some Kenyan fish traders who claimed that part of the fish impounded was theirs but in the November 5 meeting, it was resolved that the licensed Ugandan fish traders register with the director, Fisheries and be verified by the Fisheries Protection Unit.
It was in this spirit that on November 6, Joyce Nyeko, the acting director of Fisheries Resources, liaised with her Kenyan counterpart to send Ugandan fisheries officers to the Busia border post to inspect fish loaded in over 20 trucks headed for DR Congo.
On arrival, however, the Ugandan officials were accosted by some people who claimed they were the owners of the four trucks impounded by the Fisheries authorities at Entebbe.
These people petitioned Kenyan security and caused the arrest of the Ugandan officials accusing them of illegal entry into Kenya. However, following immediate intervention by senior officials in the Kenyan government, it was established that the incident had been caused by miscommunication and the Ugandan officials were operating within their mandate. The Ugandan officials were then al- lowed to carry on with their work and after that return home.
Reached out for a comment, Maj Gen Kasura-Kyomukama, the Agriculture ministry permanent secretary, thanked the Kenyan government for their timely support in handling this matter. He averred that the misunderstanding was as a result of miscommunication but emphasized the cordial working relations between the two countries.
“We are working together to ensure that no immature fish is moved across borders as stipulated in the East African Community Fisheries Protocol,” he said.