NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 15 – The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock has announced a raft of measures aimed at reversing the dwindling fish stocks in Lake Victoria.
Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri Thursday projected to turn around the fishing sector in the lake region within three years to address the reduction in annual fish harvests.
Kiunjuri said the plan is to raise fish production in the lake annually to 200,000 metric tonnes by the year 2022 as part of the revival scheme.
“My ministry intends to revive fisheries in this region and subsequently raise production,” he said.
Mwangi in the last five years, the lake has continued to decline in fish production that now stands at 90,000 metric tonnes annually from 140,000 metric tonnes annually.
“Lake Victoria fisher has experienced a worrying decline in fish stocks and diversity and subsequent fall in fish catches,” he said.
Kiunjuri who spoke as he officially opened a two-day conference on Blue Economy in Kisumu said the decline has posed several threats with long term effects on development of the country.
He said food security, fish export and fish industries following the collapse of fish procession factories have suffered as a result of the decline occasioned by several factors.
“The declining fish stocks in Lake Victoria is attributed to unsustainable fishing practices, that is overfishing and use of illegal gears,” the CS said.
Kiunjuri said his ministry has now developed a framework that will see the revival of the lake for the government to optimize on its blue economy opportunities.
He said the framework will address most of the challenges that has led to its dwindling stock as the ministry moves to restore the sector’s lost glory.
“We must therefore address these issues if we have to get the full benefit of this water resource,” he said.
Kiunjuri said there will be a strong enforcement in the lake to curb the menace of illegal fishing currently being witnessed in the lake.
He announced that plans are underway to develop six fish landing beaches in the counties of Busia, Kisumu, Homa Bay and Migori.
“We intend to also develop more sites to improve handling of fish to reduce post-harvest losses and access of fish to the international market,” he said.
He further announced that his ministry will employ and deploy more staff to the fisheries stations in the country.
The conference was attended by government officials and Kisumu County officials led by the Governor Prof Anyang Nyong’o.
Nyong’o lauded President Uhuru Kenyatta for the energy he has shown for the revival of the lake following the modernization of Kisumu port.
“First among this is the opportunity to revive maritime transport on the lake for regional trade, movement of goods and services as well as passengers,” he said.