On 10–11 December, International Alert and the Uganda Fisheries and Fish Conservation Association (UFFCA) convened a consultative meeting to discuss proposed government changes to the Beach Management Units Statute.
The proposed amendment to the statute is the result of widespread concerns over the governance of the fishing sector, with accusations of bribery and corruption by fisheries officials. Fishing is a major way of life in Uganda and one on which a number of different livelihoods depend.
Over the past 15 months, Alert and the UFFCA have been raising awareness of the concerns of those in the sector, including fishing communities, traders, officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, and specialists from the National Fisheries Resources Research Institute and Makerere University.
Our activities have included workshops, discussions, televised debates and programmes, and radio talk shows, and have culminated in a government call for civil society input on the amendment.
It is an especially important time for this debate, with the governance of the fishing sector a key campaign topic in the run-up to the February general election. In response, President Museveni recently issued a decree banning all law enforcement activities in the fishing communities.
The discussions during our meeting were productive, with various suggestions and agreement reached. The participants will now submit their individual comments and input to a working committee, which is responsible for finalising and summiting guidelines to the Solicitor General for consideration for the amended Beach Management Units Statute, which we hope will be positive.
We recently published a photostory, Oil and water?, which highlights the feelings, thoughts and views of local fishing communities across Lake Albert about the future of their sector and the possible impact that the burgeoning oil industry might have on it. You can view the photostory here.