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Taita Taveta County, Kemfri join hands in project to increase fish stocks

By Renson Mnyamwezi | May 4th 2022 | 2 min read

The Taita Taveta County government has donated 20 fishing nets for small-scale fishermen and a motorboat for surveillance in Lake Jipe and Lake Challa.

The donation comes as Kenya Marine and Fisheries Institute (Kemfri) scientists decried the decline of Tilapia fish stocks in Lake Jipe, which sits on the Kenya-Tanzania border.

Lake Jipe in Taita Taveta County. [File, Standard]

Overfishing and illegal fishing have been blamed for the decline in fish stocks. The researchers from Mombasa and Kisumu Kemfri centres also noted that there was plenty of fish in Lake Challa because it has not fully been exploited.

“There is a need to reduce the stocks by half to enable the fish to regenerate faster,” said Kisumu-based Kemfri researcher, Dr Chrispine Nyamweya.

Activities like overfishing, growth of invasive plants, heavy siltation and decline of water from clogged canals have conspired against the lake, they noted.

For several years, marine experts and conservationists have called for the county and national governments to intervene and save Jipe.

Yesterday, Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Executive Davis Mwangoma said the four-mesh nets, which is the recommended size under the fisheries management law, will help boost the industry in the county, which has been relying on supplies from outside to meet demand.

Fishing regulations

Speaking when he handed over the nets, Dr Mwangoma said it would now be easy for the county to patrol the lakes to ensure fishermen complied with regulations.

“Nets with small holes and tiny hooks have led to fishing of immature fish and fingerlings thereby inhibiting regeneration of fish population,” he said.

The CEC also issued a certificate of ownership to the beach management units in the two lakes.

Lake Jipe tilapia, scientifically named Oreochromis Jipe, is listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Dr Nyaweya said most fish at Lake Challa is found at the depth of between 20 and 40 metres, making it difficult for the fishermen to harvest.

The study on the two lakes said Challa has the potential for cage culture, but noted that the current stock should be exploited first.

“With a depth of about 100 metres, specific fishing gears should be used. The type of gear that can be used will be detailed in the final report.

“The lake is clean and the fish are clean with no pathogens and therefore fish from this lake can be used as one of the items for export from the county,” said the report.

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