Kenyan officials work to free 8 boats detained by Ugandan authorities

Fishing boats loaded with sardines (omena) dock at Litare Beach. Eleven fishing boats sailed from Remba Island in Lake Victoria toward the boundary between Kenya and Uganda but only three boats returned.

Photo credit: Pool I Nation Media Group

Security agencies from Kenya are in talks with their counterparts in Uganda to release eight fishing boats held by police from the neighbouring country.

Ugandan security personnel detained fishing vessels whose owners were accused of trespass in Lake Victoria, said Homa Bay County Commissioner Moses Lilan.

Eleven fishing boats sailed from Remba Island in Mbita sub-county toward the boundary between the two countries on Wednesday night.

But only three boats had returned to the island by Thursday morning.

The other eight others were held in Uganda.

The vessels were operated by 33 fishermen, who were freed after a brief detention, said Homa Bay County Beach Management Unit chairman Edward Oremo.

They were put on three boats that set sail back to Remba Island.

Mr Oremo said he had received reports that the fishermen were accused of trespassing into Uganda.

“All the 33 fishermen were arrested but later released. But their fishing boats were detained,” he said.

Security officers from Lolwe Island in Uganda were patrolling the lake when they confronted the fishermen, he added.

The men were asked to pay Ush20 million (about Ksh660,000) for alleged trespassing.

The fishermen said they hoped the ongoing talks would lead to their vessels being released.

But Mr Oremo accused the Ugandan authorities of unlawfully impounding the boats.

“They were using the right fishing gear. I do not see the reason the boats should be held,” he said, urging the Kenyan government to find amicable ways of resolving problems that fishermen face in the lake.

Mr Lilan asked Kenyan fishermen to adhere to fishing guidelines in the lake so as to avoid getting into trouble with authorities from other countries.


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