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Fish shortage hits Lake Victoria as prices soar

Locals living along the shores of Lake Victoria are worried about shortage of tilapia fish and the soaring prices.

Residents say that the prices of fish have shot up three fold in the last few years following a serious shortage.

Many say that the situation has pushed families that previously depended on fishing as their means of livelihood into untold suffering.

“This was bound to happen at some point after people began using dangerous fishing gears like ‘ring’ nearly some 15 years ago,” says David Obinju, a fisherman in Lake Victoria.

According to Obinju, the ‘ring’; a freelance kind of trawler, is usually planted into the waters – and allowed to move around an expansive area, sweeping any fish it comes across.

“Fishermen would catch up to 250 pieces of tilapia per trip. It was only matter of time before the waters became exhausted,” says Obinju.    

Other dangerous fishing methods like use of uncontrolled trawlers, locally known as ‘gogo’, also contributed to the problem.

“I cannot remember the last time I ate fish in my house, yet I live right on the shores of Lake Victoria. That’s because fish is not only scarce, but also very expensive even at the source,” Kennedy Ouda, a resident of Kingariso village, in Nyatike Constituency, within Migori County.

“A piece of tilapia that went for Sh100 a year ago, now goes for between Sh250 and Sh300,” he says.

Many families have resorted to eating ‘omena’ – but this too has seen a sharp decline.

Residents claim that fishermen in the neighbouring Mara Province of Tanzania are having a good catch, and that’s partly because of the government’s tough laws against poor fishing methods.

Those who spoke to Wananchi Reporting believe that a lot needs to be done to restore fish population in the Kenyan side of the lake.

“Our children are struggling to stay in school because we cannot generate income to pay school fees. All we have always known how to do is fish, but that is no longer tenable,” says Moses Osiaga.

Osiaga agrees that overfishing and poor fishing methods are to blame for the current situation.

“Some people fish directly in the breeding areas, which scares the fish and drives away. Others use dangerous gears like the ‘kimoda’, also known as ‘magufuli’.  This specific net tends to catch that smallest of fishes,” he says.

Adding: Other fishermen use ‘gogo’ which scours through the floor of the lake, hauling anything on its path to the shore.”

The situation has forced some fishermen to resort to farming to supplement their incomes, but poor weather and extensive drought in the area has killed their enterprises.

Source: Citizen Digital

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