Lake Naivasha choking under abandoned nets

Fishermen from Lake Naivasha collect some of the abandoned nets which have choked the water body killing hundreds of fish and affecting navigation exercises. [Antony Gitonga].

The department of fisheries in Nakuru County has identified abandoned fishing nets as one of the major threats currently facing Lake Naivasha.

The department noted that the nets, which are spread in most parts of the Lake, are affecting navigation and are also killing fish, in the process adversely affecting the fisheries sector.

This came as stakeholders embarked on a major clean-up exercise which saw over 50 tonnes of the abandoned nets recovered.

Naivasha sub-county fisheries officer, Nicholas Kagundu, said most of the nets were either swept away by water hyacinth or abandoned by illegal fishermen.

He said the nets pose a major threat to the lake’s ecosystem noting they are responsible for the death of fish in the lake. “We have suspended all fishing activities to conduct this clean-up. We have so far recovered over 50 tonnes of abandoned nets,” he said.

Kagundu defended the recent move to increase the number of fishing licenses by 80, noting that it was meant to address the issue of illegal fishing.

“Those who benefited from the new licenses were formerly illegal fishermen. Others are persons living with disability, and various youth groups,” he said.

Naivasha Deputy Commissioner, Mutua Kisilu, admitted that the lake faced many challenges including the abandoned nets and illegal fishing.

Hellsgate MCA Virginia Wamaitha termed the lake as critical to the economy of the region as it employed tens of youths and traders, adding; “This is our farm and we are ready to protect it by removing the abandoned fishing nets so it yields more fish in the coming days.”

Mr Jeremiah Mutiso, the chairman of Karagita Landing Beach, said they have lost fishing nets worth thousands of shillings that have been swept away by the water hyacinth.

“Once we are done with this exercise, we expect fish catch to increase and we are keen to make the cleaning an annual event,” he said.

Naivasha Municipal Board manager, Daniel Nderitu, said the county government fully backed the annual clean-up exercise.“The only way we can sustain the fragile ecosystem of this lake is through such exercises and by so doing, will increase fish catch,” he said.

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