Armed robbers have extended their area of operations from the land to Uganda’s lakes, the Government Chief Whip, Ruth Nankabirwa, says.
Therefore, fisheries law enforcement officers should be equipped to deal with the suspected robbers, she adds.
“Some of the people who are in the business of catching immature fish are armed,” Ms Nankabirwa told Parliament.
“Some of the people, who are on the waters, pretending to be trading in fish, are actually robbers. I have disarmed some of them.”
She was responding to Bukonjo West Member of Parliament (MP) Atkins Godfrey Katusabe’s Matter of National Importance.
Mr Katusabe said overzealous fisheries law enforcement officers were indiscriminately impounding businesspersons’ fish.
Consequently, those whose mature catches are impounded are losing money.
“Shocking of all,” Mr Katusabe said, “when they impound fish, the UPDF [Uganda People’s Defence Force] turn around and bring the impounded fish to the market for sale.”
Just the other day, President Museveni warned those engaged in illegal fishing that the government would firmly deal with them.
Those engaging in illegal fishing, especially catching Nile Perch that are less than 21 inches in length and 10 inches for Tilapia, risk being shot dead.
The government recently constituted a team comprised of army, police, revenue and fisheries officials to protect Uganda’s fish stock from depletion.
Fish, in the mid-1990s, was among Uganda’s top four foreign exchange earners.
The warning followed fresh reports that Lake Victoria fish stock is depleted.
Overfishing is itself attributed to demand for fish to feed many a household.
The government hopes the shoot-to-kill order against those behind the illegal fishing would help to protect the young fish.
Mr Kutasabe though says the shoot-to-kill order should be dropped – since Ugandans have a constitutional right to life.
The MP suggested that the suspects should be arrested and prosecuted.