Licensing of Fishing Boats Hits Snag

The State Minister for Fisheries, Ms Ruth Nankabirwa

However the exercise short lived and the ministry abandoned it without issuing permanent vessel identification number plates even to few fishermen who had paid the license.
The proposal to license boats in a bid to regulate fishing activities in the country has hit a snag because of lack of funds. In 2011, the Ministry of Fisheries through the amended fish act 2010 re-centralized issuing of licenses. The ministry set 100,000 shillings as annual license fee for small boats and 200,000 for large scale fishing boats. This was aimed at regulating fishing activities and conserve Lakes in the country.

However, the exercise was short lived as it was abandoned by the ministry without issuing permanent vessel identification plates even to the few fishermen who paid up. However, Ruth Nankabirwa, the state ministry for fisheries says the boat licensing exercise hit a snag because of lack of funds. She says the finance ministry failed to release three billion shillings, which was budgeted for the exercise. Nankabirwa however, says the finance ministry has promised to facilitate the exercise in the 2013/14 financial year.

Margaret Komuhangi, the Nakasongola District Woman MP says  the failure to kickstart boat licensing has not only contributed to loss of revenue to Central government but it has worsened illegal fishing leading to depletion of the lake.
James Wandira Muruli, the Nakasongola LC V chairperson faults the ministry for centralizing the boat licensing exercise, well knowing it lacks the necessary resources.

The failure by the ministry to kick start the boat licensing exercise has not gone down well some fishermen. Joseph Mukasa, a fisherman at Namasale landing site on Lake Kyoga says that it is was unfair for the ministry to force some fishermen to pay for the license, yet many others are operating freely. Luke Muwanguzi, a fisherman at Lwapanga landing site on Lake Kyoga claims that the licensing proposal was introduced to kick them out of business.  Muwanguzi argues that there are already paying enough taxes that include movement permits, local service taxes and operation costs.

He asks the ministry to forget the boat licensing exercise. Although information about total number of fishing boats in Uganda is scanty, reports from Ministry of fisheries indicate that Uganda losses 483 billion shillings in foreign earning as result of illegal fishing activities. This is partly attributed to unlicensed fishing vessels operating on the lake.

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