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36 Kenyan fishermen arrested in Uganda released

By Isaiah Gwengi | August 22nd 2016
A fisherman prepares his fishing net at Uhanya beach in Siaya County in readiness for fishing.The Kenyan cross border fishermen are bearing the brunt of a new Ugandan regulation that seeks to register boats and fishermen. Photo by COLLINS ODUOR

36 Kenyan fishermen arrested in Lake Victoria by Ugandan authorities over the weekend have been released.

The fishermen from Nambo beach in Bondo sub-county were intercepted by the Ugandan Revenue Authority (URA) on Saturday night for allegedly trespassing and using illegal fishing gear.

The Kenyans were fishing near Sigulu Island in Uganda when the Ugandans ordered them to stop at gun point.

They were bundled into the officers' patrol boat and taken to Hama Island where they were locked up.

Their nine boats, engines and fishing nets were also confiscated by the officers. However, their fish valued at Sh50, 000 was also taken and sold by the officers.

The Nambo beach management unit Secretary, Mr Alfred Ochieng protested over continued harassment, intimidation and extortion by the neighbours.

"The Ugandan officers demanded Sh10, 000 from each boat and Sh7, 000 from each fishing net. We managed to pay for the release of the boats and some nets," said Ochieng.

He called on the government to declare its official position on the arbitrary arrests of Kenyan fishermen by Ugandan authorities.

"Most arrests are occurring within the Kenyan waters. The Ugandans are always out looking for fish and money," stated Mr Ochieng.

Last year, a delegation comprising 50 Kenyans and Ugandans held a meeting at Sigulu Island in Uganda to facilitate cross-border trade between fishermen of the two countries.

Speaking to The Standard, a number of the fishermen said they have been intimidated and harassed by Ugandan police whenever they are found in the 'Ugandan waters'.

"We thought having a cross-border peace meeting would bring a sigh of relief to Kenyan fishermen but it has become a nightmare. Ugandan authorities have ignored such agreements and the EAC treaty signed by the five member States," Daniel Odero, a fisherman in Bondo, said.

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