Fishermen raise red flag as fish stocks drop in Lake Naivasha

A trader prepares fish for sale at Kamere Beach on Lake Naivasha. [Antony Gitonga, Standard]
Fish production in Lake Naivasha has dropped sharply in the last two months, with the ongoing cold weather and illegal fishing blamed for the problem.

Common carp, which is the most dominant in the troubled lake, has been the most affected, with the catch dropping by more than 90 per cent.

A number of fishermen and fishmongers said the fish species was rapidly becoming rare. However, tilapia, which a couple of years back faced extinction, has increased to the joy of consumers and hundreds of fisher folk who rely on the lake.

According to James Wainaina, a boat operator, it is normal for common carp species to drop at this time of the year.

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Mr Wainaina, who operates from Karagita landing beach, said in the past, one boat could net more than 200kg of common carp a day.

“Currently one boat is recording around 20kg of common carp catch, while that of tilapia has risen, and this is the norm at such times of the year,” he said.

He challenged the county government to restock the lake, noting that for years fishermen had been forced to contribute towards the exercise.

“The county earns millions of shillings from cess collected from the four landing beaches around the lake and the only gift it can give to fishermen is fingerlings,” he said.

Common species

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David Kilo of Boat Operators Association noted that the common carp species hibernated during the cold season to reproduce. “In the next two months, we expect common carp production to dominate the catch, as the weather will be warmer,” he said.

Mr Kilo, who is also a honorary game warden, at the same time cited excessive fishing as one of the major challenges facing the sector that is relying on the lake.

“We have seen the number of illegal fishermen rise and they are operating along the shorelines and the breeding zones, and this is a major threat to fish production,” he said.

County Director of Fisheries Mathew Ngila termed the current situation normal, adding that the cold weather had contributed to drop in the fish catch.

He said the county government would restock the lake with 50,000 fingerlings.

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“The county has set aside Sh500,000 for the restocking exercise and this will go on every financial year , as the lake offers food and job opportunities to hundreds,” he said.

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