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Illegal fishermen linked to decreasing fish in Lake Naivasha

Fish for sale at Kamere landing beach in Naivasha. The catch around the lake has dropped by more than 60 per cent in the last month due to over-fishing by illegal fishermen. [Anthony Gitonga, Standard]

The daily catch in Lake Naivasha has dropped by more than 60 per cent in the last month.

There are fears the catch could drop further in the coming days with the Department of Fisheries blaming the current low figures on cold weather.

Fishermen have attributed the current crisis to a rise in illegal fishing and the use of undersized nets.

The Kenya Coast Guards Services has officially launched patrols in the troubled lake, arresting tens of youths involved in the illegal trade.

Lake Naivasha Boat Owners Association chairman David Kilo said fishermen are feeling the full effect of the illegal trade.

Kilo said the drop in the daily catch has mostly affected tilapia. 

“This is one of the darkest moments for the fisheries sector in Naivasha,” he said.

Kilo further attributed this to fishing in the breeding zones, failure to restock, and lack of support by the county government. 

“In the past fishermen contributed towards restocking, only for the illegal fishermen to reap where they never planted and hence the current drop,” he said.

Kilo went on, adding that the lake should be given time to ‘breathe’ and that a major clean-up exercise is needed to clear all dead nets.

Naivasha sub-county fisheries officer Nicholas Kagundu said the daily catch has dropped, but linked it to the current cold weather.

Kagundu said it is normal for the size of the catch to reduce with a drop in temperatures, adding that fishermen should expect changes in the coming months.

“Illegal fishing has played a part in the drop in fish, but the main cause is the cold weather which has forced various species to hibernate,” he said.

Naivasha sub-county commissioner Mutua Kisilu confirmed the operations by the Coast Guards Services despite opposition from the youth.

He said a multi-agency security team had been formed to patrol the lake to deal with the increasing number of illegal fishermen.

“We shall not be cowed by the youth who are protesting against the ongoing crackdown,” he said.

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