Rwenshama Fishermen Raise Concerns Over Cross-Border Intrusions

RUKUNGIRI – Fishermen at the Rwenshama Landing site along Lake Edward have voiced their concerns regarding the encroachment of individuals from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In a discussion with our correspondent, Mr. Kiiza Abdu, the community’s chairperson, appealed to the Ugandan government for equal treatment of both Ugandan and Congolese fishermen.

He reflected on a time when both groups were treated impartially, urging authorities to uphold this fairness by addressing infringements through proper legal channels.

Mr. Abdu emphasized that cases of unauthorized fishing by Ugandans often result in the confiscation of their boats for a significant period, sometimes extending up to two months. In contrast, he questioned the prompt release of Congolese individuals apprehended for similar violations. He lamented the scenario where the limited resources owned by Ugandan fishermen are being shared with their Congolese counterparts, as Uganda only holds 25% of the lake’s fishing rights while Congo enjoys 75%.

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Kyomuhendo Annet, serving as the chairperson of Fisheries at Rwenshama Landing site, disclosed that the community benefits from a fleet of 60 boats provided by the Ugandan government, in addition to 40 collectively owned boats. She acknowledged the collaborative efforts between the Ugandan marine forces and their Congolese counterparts. Annet urged the government to involve the community in various developmental initiatives such as Parish development modalities, Youth livelihood programs, NAADS, among others.

Annet praised the marine forces for their diligent work in deterring Congolese fishermen from Ugandan waters. While they successfully discourage some, she acknowledged that there are still instances of misconduct among both groups.

According to Capt. Ankunda Julius, the Commander in charge of Fisheries Protection, the intrusion by Congolese fishermen has negative repercussions on Ugandan counterparts due to the scarcity of fish in the shared waters. He recognized the challenges in maintaining a balance and ensuring sufficient fish stocks for Ugandan fisheries. Capt. Ankunda refuted allegations of corruption within the marine forces involving Congolese fisheries.

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The situation along Lake Edward remains intricate, with Ugandan fishermen advocating for fair treatment and equitable access to the lake’s resources. As the authorities work to address these concerns, it is crucial to find a balance between preserving the marine ecosystem and fostering harmonious relations between the two neighboring nations.

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