The marine regiment of the Rwanda Defence Forces yesterday handed over 244 illegal fishing nets, worth Rwf60 million, to the Ministry of Agriculture, impounded from fishermen on Lake Kivu.
“The size of these nets is unacceptable because they catch immature fish which is against the law,” said Lt. Col. Theodomire Bahizi, the head of the marine regiment during the hand over ceremony.
Last year, the Ministry of Agriculture signed a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Defence, requiring marines to fight illegal fishing on all lakes in the country.
Col. Bahizi said that the marine force seized the nets from different parts of the lake, including Rusizi, Rubavu and Iwawa, among other areas.
The nets are reportedly imported from the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.
“The standard size of fishing nets is supposed to be 6 milimeters but the seized nets are 0.14 millimetres which, by far, is below the standard.
Others go beyond and use mosquito nets to fish,” said Dr. Wilson Rutaganira, the coordinator of Inland Lakes Integrated Management Support Programme (PAIGELAC), who received the nets on behalf of the Ministry.
Rutaganira attributes the decline in the productivity of Lake Kivu to illegal practices. He appealed to the prosecution to seek deterrent punishments for the culprits.
“Such fishing materials have a negative impact to the productivity of lakes and if heavy punishment is not handed to the culprits, there will be more decline in productivity,” noted Rutaganira.
In order to step up the fight against the malpractice, the Ministry of Agriculture bought 25 boats to boost marines in curbing the vice.