Fishermen and fishmongers at Katosi Landing Site in Mukono district who deal in silverfish commonly known as Mukene have traded accusations of perpetrating bad fishing practices.
These who normally fish from the same areas claim that their colleagues practice bad fishing habits which chase away the Nile perch, hence leaving them counting losses.
Silverfish are found in Lakes Victoria, Kyoga, and Nabugabo and in the Victoria Nile. It is among the three most important commercial fish species in Lakes Victoria and Kyoga.
Initially, it was caught by beach seines made out of 10 mm mesh nets. Then a more efficient lampara net was later introduced. The mesh size was reduced to 5 mm and in some cases to 3 mm. Nets of small meshes capture mainly immature fishes.
Today silverfish is caught by the light. Kerosene pressure lamps are floated on the water, attracting fish to the light. It is then fished out using scoop-nets and nets pulled from the shores and from canoes. Joel Wamala, a fisherman at the site says that the use of illegal fishing gear has affected stocks across the lake and affected their earnings this season.
Joe Busulwa, an entrepreneur with Bukanama Enterprise which transports fish to factories explains that silverfish is important in the water as it is a food source for the Nile perch.
He says there are so many on the lake using very bright light which chases away the nile perch stocks which is supposed to be caught hence affecting their income.
Asuman Musoke, a fisherman, says mukene is caught by light attraction and is lately overfished. He says that Nile perch is Uganda’s most exported fish and once the mukene is over fished, it affects its pricing on the market.
“Mukene is caught with light which attracts the fish. In the past they have been using dim light however, lately, they use a bright light to attract more silverfish and are making more money as we are losing out at the same time after spending money on fuel which is expensive,” he says.
John Gonja, another fishmonger says the scarcity of the fish has caused them to also increase the price at which they sell the fish.
Robert Sserugo, the chairperson of Katosi Landing Site confirmed the shortage of fish at the site however; he accused some government personnel of aiding the theft of fish and fishing gears at the landing site.
He says that fishermen no longer want to go fishing due to the military on the water. He says that they are arrested and their fish and boats taken, as well as the increased private fishing territories on the lake which has discouraged the others to go fishing.
“Fishing at the site has reduced due to the military on the lake that arrest anyone found fishing and the high taxes imposed on the fishing gears, this has made some people resort to doing other things instead of fishing,” Sserugo says.
But Caleb Mukisa, the chairperson Katosi Mukene Fishermen Association dismisses the allegations and instead notes that there is a general shortage of all fish species in the lake.
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