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Fishermen advocate for diplomatic resolution of boundary feuds

Fishermen in Homa Bay County have called for bilateral talks between Kenya and Uganda to end conflicts over boundaries in fishing zones in Lake Victoria.

Led by Suba Sub County Beach Management Units (BMU) Chairman William Onditi, they said they had endured frustration at the hands of Ugandan security officials.

Onditi expressed concerns that Ugandan security officials always block them from fishing within Kenyan territories in the lake.

He said at least 33 boats belonging to Kenyan fishermen from Homa Bay County have been confiscated by Ugandan security officials in the last two weeks alone.

The official said that the fishermen who were operating the boats were also arrested and later released.

Onditi said among the confiscated boats, 22 were from Remba Island, while 11 were from various beaches in Suba Sub-county.

“The harassment has become too persistent for fishermen to get value from fishing,” he said.

Onditi argued that Ugandan security officials had developed a tendency to patrol Kenyan waters with the intention of dispossessing Kenyan fishermen of the fish they catch.

He said any fisherman whose boat has been confiscated has to pay Sh40,000 in order to have the boat released.

“Harassment by Ugandan security officials has become rampant in Lake Victoria. They arrest Kenyan fishermen and take them to Lolwe Island in Uganda, where their boats are confiscated. Finally, a boat owner has to part with a hefty fine in order to be given back their boat,” Onditi said.

The Chairman called on Kenyan authorities to talk to Yoweri Museveni’s government to end the harassment.

“This problem continues to worsen. We appeal to President William Ruto to have a dialogue with his Ugandan counterpart for a long-term solution,” Onditi said.

He said Kenyan fishermen will not get value for their sweat if the harassment continues.

“We no longer make a profit because we are deprived of our fish. The Ugandan security also imposes hefty fines on us upon the arrests,” Onditi said.

The fishermen want to operate in a conducive atmosphere without any frustrations in the lake.

“We need to operate without being frustrated in Lake Victoria,” he added.

By Davis Langat

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