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KEMFRI probes mysterious deaths of fish in Lake Victoria

By Isaiah Gwengi | February 3rd 2021

FILE PHOTO: Fishermen prepare fish at Nyenye-Got Agulu beach in Bondo sub-county (Photo: Isaiah Gwengi)


The Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute has launched investigations into the mysterious deaths of fish in Lake Victoria.

This came as KEMFRI on Monday ruled out poisoning for the deaths of thousands of fish reported four days ago.
The first case was reported in Uganda about two weeks ago, after Nile perch and tilapia were found floating in huge numbers, causing panic and anxiety among local fish farmers and consumers.

On Saturday, fishermen raised alarm over a large number of dead fish floating on the waters, suspecting poisoning.
According to the fishermen, the development threatens the livelihoods of thousands of people.

Speaking to The Standard Digital, the fishermen from Oyamo Island in Bondo called on the government to intervene to save the lives of unsuspecting members of the public who might consume the fish.

“There is a need to conduct a thorough research on the possible cause of the mysterious death of fish,” said Ochieng Owino, a fisherman.

But speaking after collecting water samples and the dead fish, the deputy director of Fresh Water Systems at KEMFRI Christopher Aura said the researchers have launched investigations to establish the cause of deaths.
Aura said preliminary investigations pointed to suffocation due to a drop in oxygen levels.

He explained that the recent storm on the lakes caused mixing of different waters thereby reducing the oxygen levels in the lake.

“We have noticed that the fish have rotten gills (gill rot) which are caused by longer periods of suffocation,” he explained and ruled out the possibility of poisoning.

Aura, who added that the most affected fish species was the Nile perch, said it is sensitive to oxygen levels below two milligrams per litre of water.

Lake Victoria is a vital resource shared by Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania.

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