Analysis of the implementation and enforcement of the Fish Act, CAP.197 (2000) on Lake Victoria in Uganda
The study conducted from 1964 to 2008 examined the adequacy of the implementation and enforcement of Uganda’s Fish Act, Cap. 197 of 2000 in controlling the exploitation and conservation of fisheries resources of Lake Victoria (Uganda). The study examined the impact of the implementation of the Fish Act and/the inadequacy of the Fish Act in conservation and ensuring effective exploitation of fisheries resources in Lake Victoria; the factors affecting implementation and enforcement of the Fish Act; the relationship between implementation and enforcement of the Fish Act; and the relationship between the implementation of the Fish Act and level of malpractices and resource destruction in Lake Victoria (Uganda). The primary data were collected using interview schedules, questionnaires and observation checklist while secondary data were obtained from relevant reports including frame surveys and reports from implementing agencies to assess the implementation and enforcement of the Fish Act. A cross sectional survey design was conducted and a sample of 163 respondents were interviewed including the fisher folk, fisheries law enforcement personnel, fish processors and exporters, members of Beach Management Units (BMUs), LVFO officials and Commissioner for Fisheries. The secondary data was used in assessing the impact of enforcement regime on fisheries conservation and effective exploitation. Results indicated that fisher folk and fisheries managers knew about the existence of the Fish Act (Cap.197 of 2000). Despite this, several practices that breached the Fish Act continued on Lake Victoria implying that implementation and enforcement of the Fish Act on Lake Victoria was inadequate to ensure sustainable exploitation and conservation of fisheries resources. The study showed high incidence of fishing illegalities on Lake Victoria which was probably due to both gaps in the Fish Act as well as failure to implement and enforce provisions of the Fish Act. There was a significant negative relationship between implementation and enforcement of the Fish Act (r = 0.152; p < 0.05). Implementation of the Fish Act was shown to have had a negative effect on exploitation and conservation of fisheries resources on Lake Victoria as fishers exploited the loopholes/gaps in the Fish Act. The study also found that a number of subsidiary legislations are not provided for in the existing principal Fisheries Act, and presented legal challenges at implementation. In order to improve the effectiveness of implementation and enforcement of the Fish Act to control the exploitation and conservation of fisheries resources on Lake Victoria (Uganda), it’s recommended that a review of the existing Fish Act be undertaken to plug the gaps exploited by unscrupulous fishermen and illicit traders. It is also recommended that legal provisions be made in the principle Act for key subsidiary legislations that are not catered for in the current Fish Act including the community involvement in enforcement provided in the BMU Instrument; instrument on prohibited fishing gears; closed fishing area rules instrument; and the instrument concerning protected fisheries areas. The revision of the existing Fish Act must provide for increase in the capacity of the Department of Fisheries Resources to enforce fisheries regulations, sensitizing of the fisher folk and utilizing BMUs in enforcement of the Fish Act.