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Lawmakers have rejected President Museveni’s proposal to include the Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF) as part of the Fisheries and Monitoring Division under the Fisheries and Aquaculture Bill 2021 to prevent illegal fishing.

Parliament initially passed the bill in May 2022, but the president did not assent to it, sending it back to parliament for reconsideration.

He argued that given the need for continuous surveillance and the sophisticated methods used by people involved in illegal fishing, the support of both the UPDF and the Uganda Police Force (UPF) was required.

Parliament reviewed the bill on Wednesday, September 28, 2022, but MPs passed an amendment that would instead require the civil service to appoint a monitoring group made up of people with a fisheries science background.

The amendment was moved by the Hon. Asuman Basalirwa (Jima, Bugiri Municipality) after a debate in which MPs were divided on the President’s proposal and the report of the Committee on Agriculture.

“The skills issue is now becoming part of the regulations, which are led by the Minister for Fisheries in consultation with the Home Secretary. I am comforted by the Minister of Internal Affairs because now I know we are dealing with the police,” Basalirwa said.

The Attorney General, Hon. Kirewa Kiwanuka agreed with Basalirwa, saying it was the duty of the Public Service Commission to recruit a watchdog unit to ensure inclusiveness.

Chairman of the Committee on Agriculture, Hon. Janet Okorie-Moh said the Committee agreed to maintain the previous position adopted by Parliament, which conducts surveillance and training under the leadership of the police because the force is mandated to protect life, property and other rights of the people.

“In case of any sophisticated methods used by people engaged in illegal fishing as cited by the President, the UPDF can be deployed in accordance with the provisions of the UPDF Act and the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda,” Okori-Moh said.

Hon Nathan Nadala Mafabi (FDC, Budadiri West District) said that since the army was deployed to monitor the lakes, most of the locals in the fishing communities were not allowed to fish, depriving them of their main source of livelihood.

However, the legislators agreed with the President on the proposal to grant fishing licensing powers to the chief licensor.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of the Parliament of the Republic of Uganda.

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