Fish shortage has hit hotels, beaches and restaurants in Kalangala following intensified operations against illegal fishing activities in the district, which has seen 10,000 fishermen banned from the waters of Lake Victoria. In January this year, Kalangala district council banned at least 10000 fishermen after they were found using illegal fishing gears.
This grounded fishing activities on almost all landing sites in the district. Jackson Baguma, the Kalangala district Fisheries officer says that the council resolved that whoever is found using illegal fishing gear should be kicked out of the district for good.
He says that at least 40 percent of the fishermen in the district were using illegal fishing gear such as beach saines and monofilaments. Willy Lugoloobi, the Kalangala district LC5 Chairman says the district council unanimously supported the move to close landing site where illegal fishing practices were common.
So far Mwena, Bugoma and Bwendero landing sites have been closed. According to Lugolobi some of the fishermen were even using poison to catch fish, which he says costs the district millions of shillings in immature fish. He says the affected landing sites will not be reopened until the problem of illegal fishing practices is addressed completely.
Lugolobi also faults beach management unit chairperson for fueling the illegal fishing practices through accepting bribes from fishermen to allow them use the banned gears.
Lugoloobi also says the ban on fishing shall not end until all the wrong elements involved are removed.
The closure of various landing sites has caused a major fish scarcity in the district. Kozza Restaurant which is popular for serving fish dishes has spent days without any fish supplies. Isma Ntaate, the proprietor of Kozza restaurant says he has resorted to selling unprofitable chicken because most of his fish suppliers have been ejected from the business.
An average tilapia which initially was going for shillings 5000 now costs 12,000. The same goes for between 20,000 and 25,000 at beaches such as Brovad Sand Resort, Ssese Habitat Resort, Pearl
Gardens Beach, Ssese Beach Hotel and Kalaya Holiday centre among others.
Fish has disappeared on the menus of some of the hotels due to scarcity. Nick Hirya, the manager Brovad Sand Resort says they spend days without fish yet it is the main delicacy for tourists visiting Kalangala.
Sheikh Edris Mayanja, the Kalangala district kadhi says although the ban and closure of some landing sites has caused fish shortages, it is a good development.
Statistics from Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industries and Fisheries shows that Uganda exported 18,320 metric tonnes of fish worth Shs262 billion in the 2012/13 Financial Year supported by a strong recovery in volumes and quality. Globally, annual fisheries exports are valued at between Shs 209 trillion ($85 billion) and Shs 246 trillion ($90 billion.