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High pollution blamed for possible ‘extinction’ of tilapia in Lake Victoria

By Harold Odhiambo | Published Tue, January 10th 2017 at 00:00, Updated January 9th 2017 at 22:00 GMT +3
Devolved Fisheries. Some of 600 private fish cages in Lake Victoria's Anyanga beach in Usenge, Siaya county. Public and privater patnership projects in fish caging is fast revolutionizing the decades of underutilized Lake Victoria's potential. (Photo: Denish Ochieng/ Standard)

Fishermen in Lake Victoria have expressed concerns over the possible ‘extinction’ of tilapia due to high levels of pollution in the lake.

They said the species has been on a steady decline as various institutions in the area continue to release untreated waste into the lake.

The fishermen in Kisumu and Kendu Bay told The Standard that in the past few months, pollution on the lake had increased.

They noted that pollution threatened the tilapia species, which swims to other regions in search of clean water.

John Okello, a fisherman at Dunga Beach, said in the recent past, their fishing ventures had resulted in very few tilapia.

He noted that despite the decline in fish stocks in Lake Victoria, tilapia had been the most affected. Many fishermen were now focusing on other species.

“Most of our fishing expeditions have been futile because the lake is polluted and tilapia prefers clean water,” said Mr Okello.

HARD TIMES

He noted that many people were being forced out of the trade because of dwindling fish stocks.

“We’re going through hard times because some of us end up catching only one fish after setting fish traps,” he said.

Charles Okello, another fisherman, said in most cases, a lot of physical waste including plastics and polythene bags got caught in their fishing nets.

As a result, he noted, many fishermen had been forced to hike the prices of any fish they caught - some have been going as high as Sh1,500 or more depending on size.

Last year, investigations by The Standard revealed that fish, especially tilapia, is now being imported into the region from China as a result of the dwindling stocks.

And now, the fishermen attribute the decline to pollution and want county governments in the regions surrounding Lake Victoria to address the problem.

They noted that the decline in stocks could be prevented if pollution around the lake was controlled.


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