Operations by the Kenya Coast Guard Service officials to safeguard Lake Victoria from illegal activities have started.
The lake is affected by environmental degradation resulting from illegal fishing. Many fishermen also use destructive fishing gear to catch young fish, raising fear of extinction of some fish species in the lake.
On Wednesday, Kenya Coast Guard officials began operation on various parts of the lake in Homa Bay County where 20 fishermen were arrested.
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Fifteen of the 20 were practising illegal fishing while five disregarded safety measures such life-saving jackets at Doho, Kaimbo, Homa Line, Kisaka and Remo beaches in Rachuonyo North and Mbita sub-counties. Some fishermen were using dilapidated boats. The Coast Guard Service Officer in charge of Inland Squadron, Lieutenant Bernard Mibei, said their operations are aimed at providing security and eradicating illegal fishing activities in the lake.
“Let fishermen desist from the use of illegal fishing gear. We want everybody using the lake to adhere to safety measures,” Mibei said.
Addressing journalists at the Homa Bay Pier, Mibei said they will be focusing on the general security of the lake.
This is expected to do away with cases of robbery which have in the past been reported in the lake. Local fishermen have previously alleged harassment by Ugandan authorities.
He said they would intensify surveillance until residents comply with the safety regulations.
Overfishing by organised crime syndicates in Lake Victoria could drive 76 per cent of fish species to extinction, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Lake Victoria is among the top 10 largest freshwater bodies in the world.