Fishermen in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania could soon have a universal fishing license to operate in Lake Victoria.
This move could bring to an end the continued harassment of fishermen from security agencies from the three states sharing the lake.
The universal license agreed at the EAC level, would work just like the Common Market Protocol, and would open free fishing and trading in the lake without anybody stopping youAnthony Taabu
According to Anthony Taabu, the Deputy Executive Secretary of the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization (LVFO) there is need to standardize operations in the lake to ensure sustainable exploitation of its resources.
LVFO is an intermediary of the East African Community mandated to coordinate the management and development of fisheries in the East African Community (EAC) partner states.
In the past, Kenyan fishermen have reported cases of harassment when fishing, especially from law enforcement officers from Uganda.
The fishermen have always been accused of getting into Ugandan waters, with many of them claiming unclear boundaries is to blame.
But speaking during a recent sensitization forum in Kisumu, Mr Taabu noted that LVFO is working on a proposal towards having the universal license.
This can only be solved if it comes to the level through a universal license which can allow the fishermen to fish and trade in all parts of the lake under the same conditionAnthony Taabu
“The universal license agreed at the EAC level, would work just like the Common Market Protocol, and would open free fishing and trading in the lake without anybody stopping you,” said Taabu.
Taabu noted that the need to protect the borders by the member states has been the biggest challenge in allowing the freedom.
“This can only be solved if it comes to the level through a universal license which can allow the fishermen to fish and trade in all parts of the lake under the same condition,” he said.
He said having the universal license would involve bringing together the partner states on a common ground through an agreeable policy harmonized from the relevant laws from the three partner states.
“For example, we have now come up with Fish and Agriculture Policy for East Africa, which if approved by the EAC legislative assembly processes, and endorsed by the three members, it will be rolled out,” he said.
Enacting the law
He noted that the proposal would be discussed by the EAC structures.
The proposal would first be considered at the technical level, before being pushed to the senior officials, such as the directors and heads of departments charged with fisheries within the member states.
The proposal would then be taken to the Convention Committee, comprised of Permanent Secretaries within the relevant ministries, before being forwarded to the Council of Ministers.
“Once the Council of Ministers passes it, then we can now make a legislation out of that, and take it to the parliament and enact it,” he said.
Taabu said the entire process of coming up with the law will however take into consideration the opinions of all the sector players.