April 15, 2024

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Illegal fishing on Lake Edward, threat and risk in Fish production in Eastern DRC

By DENISE KYALWAHI, DRC

 Illegal and unregulated fishing has become a common practice on Lake Edward. In past years, Lake Edward produced at least 12 to 15 tons of fish per production, currently fish deficiency is visible in fishing activities in Kyavinyonge.

According to MUKOHE RODRIGUES, a manager of the Cooperative des Pêcheries de Virunga station Kyavinyonge, “the current fishing situation on Lake Edward in Kyavinyonge is not promising. The fishing production on the shores of Lake Edward has decreased so much. It is no longer like in 2017-2018, several social, economic, security and technical problems are at the base of the unproductivity. »

« In some cases, our fishermen are often arrested in Uganda, our canoes and nets are often thrown by Ugandan naval forces because our fishermen here do not meet the quality standards of fishing, » He added.

On his side MBUSA KAVASA Noé, President of the fishermen in Kyavinyonge, « our fishermen often surpass the limit because we have no palpable sign which shows the limit between the Ugandan and Congolese part; the lake is not marked. In this community we are 250 shipowners and our great difficulty is the lack of fish from Kyanika, Nyakakoma, Vitchumbi, Kasindi port, Kyavinyonge and Kisaka. »

He explains that « At Lake Edward we do not live like people who live by the lake. To date, finding a canoe that can catch 50 or 100 fish is a problem. »

Normally, fishermen are prohibited from practicing poor fishing on the lake Edouard.

However, there are also illegal and uncontrolled fishing by people supported by certain agents who call themselves government agents.

These desperate fishermen said that such practices affect the lake and fish production, hence leading the community to poverty.

They wish that there should be a registration option that recognises who has the right to practice fishing in this conflicting zone.

« We urge the government to take good care of the lake in light of this situation. Once the regulations are well followed we will have good productivity as in Uganda. » Mbusa said

In Uganda, Kikungu area, there is already a license plate application and this orders their fishing.

Mr. Mbusa revealed « On our side too, the government must help us get a good license plate. That our government and people of good will may consider and this will reduce illegal fishing.

We always stop in Uganda because we don’t have a GPS, in the lake there are no limits, and these mistakes are also the cause of our arrests on Lake Edward. »

Congolese law in its article 36 gives ICCN, (Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature), the power to control the protected areas of Lake Edward.

Among the tasks, ICCN identifies the canoes and fishermen who may work in this entity.

According to the law governing the fishery, the plates are issued individually for each canoe owner at the Fisheries Department or ICCN.

License plate owners are authorized to operate on a single canoe equipped with 10 nets with a minimum mesh size of 4.5 mm (inches).

Theoretically, only license plate owners have a canoe, each boat is then numbered to allow controls and verifications by the Department of Fisheries.

But to the surprise some fishing canoes operate with a crew of nets of 4.4 up to 3.9 mm, which is prohibited by law, and the owners operate without worry, for the case of tilapia fishing.

Fishermen in COPEVI Kyavinyonge are worried if no tangible solutions are reached, such practices will continue to destroy the ecosystem in general and this will continue to make the community suffer in particular.

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