By Brian Keitira

In a remarkable turnaround, fish stocks on Ugandan lakes have significantly increased, thanks to the tireless efforts of Lt Col Mercy Tukahirwa and the Fisheries Protection Unit. This surge in fish populations has boosted government revenue, revitalized the fishing industry, and ensured food security for millions of Ugandans.

During a recent visit to Lake Eco Fish Processing Ltd, Lt Col Tukahirwa was informed that factories are now receiving large quantities of Nile perch, a testament to the success of conservation efforts. The Nile perch, a prized catch for both local consumption and export, had been dwindling in numbers due to overfishing and illegal fishing practices.

However, with the Fisheries Protection Unit’s vigilant monitoring and enforcement, the species is now thriving once again.

Lt Col MercyTukahirwa (Right) At The Factory Of Lake Eco-fishing Processing Ltd

Additionally, Tilapia, a popular fish species among Ugandans, has made a comeback on Lake Victoria and Lake Kyoga. This resurgence is attributed to the Unit’s efforts to curb illegal fishing and protect fish breeding grounds. The return of Tilapia has brought joy to fishermen and consumers alike, as it provides an affordable source of protein for many households.

The Fisheries Protection Unit, under Lt Col Tukahirwa ’s leadership, has been instrumental in combating illegal fishing. In a recent operation, over 300 engines were confiscated from the Congolese community, who were engaging in large-scale illegal fishing. This crackdown has led to a substantial increase in fish stocks, as illegal fishing activities have significantly decreased.

The 300 Boat Engines Confiscated From The Congolese Community Engaged In Illegal Fishing

Lt Col Tukahirwa’s outreach programs have also played a crucial role in promoting sustainable fishing practices. During her visit to the fishing community in Bundibugyo, she encouraged locals to guard the lake and adopt environmentally friendly fishing methods. She emphasized the importance of preserving fish stocks for future generations and the need for responsible fishing practices.

The impact of Lt Col Tukahirwa’s efforts is evident in the revitalization of the fishing industry. By 2005, 22 fish processing factories were operating, earning USD 143.6 million annually and employing 5,600 permanent workers, casual laborers, and generating significant fish supplies and by-products. However, illegal fishing caused the collapse of these factories, leaving only 8 operational by the time Lt Col Mercy took office. In her short tenure, 13 factories have resumed operations, generating USD 83.588 million in revenue for Uganda.

Lt Col Mercy Tukahirwa Meeting The Fishing Community In Bundibugyo & Educating Them About The Benefits Of Conserving The Lakes

The resurgence of fish stocks and the revival of the fishing industry have also had a positive impact on local communities. Fishermen are now able to earn a decent living, and the availability of fish has improved food security for millions of Ugandans. The increase in government revenue has also enabled the government to invest in other critical sectors such as healthcare, education, and infrastructure development.

The success of Lt Col Mercy and the Fisheries Protection Unit serves as a model for sustainable fisheries management in Uganda. Her efforts demonstrate that with determination, leadership, and community engagement, it is possible to restore depleted fish stocks and promote environmentally friendly fishing practices.

In a nutshell, Lt Col Mercy’s outstanding leadership and innovative approaches have not only led to a resurgence in fish stocks on Ugandan lakes but have also contributed to the socio-economic development of the pearl of Africa. Her unwavering commitment to conservation, coupled with her collaborative engagement with stakeholders, has set a benchmark for sustainable marine management that serves as a model for environmental protection on the African continent.

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