The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Hyacinth Costs Fishermen Sh40 Million Daily

Photo: Guy Oliver/IRIN
Fishermen have died in Lake Victoria.

FISHERMEN in Lake Victoria have lost about Sh1.2 billion because of the water hyacinth menace for the last one month. The weed has chocked the lake for many years now, despite all efforts to weed it out.

About 200 Beach Management Units fishermen across Nyanza region have been unable to engage in their fishing expeditions because the weed has spread across four counties.

The Lake Victoria fishermen lobby group say the weed has spread to Kisumu, Homa Bay, Migori and Siaya counties. The chairman of Magnam Environmental Network Michael Nyaguti said yesterday that the fishermen lose Sh40 million daily, because of the weed.

"Water vessels cannot move and the fishing business is seriously under threat," said Nyaguti. He said there is need for a quick and practical solution to wipe out the weed.

"We are afraid majority of the people whose economic activity revolve around fishing may be declared redundant soon," he added. Nyaguti said effort should be taken to involve the local people in the manual removal of the hyacinth.

Usoma Beach Management Unit chairman in Kisumu Zaibu Juma called on the ministry of fisheries development under Amason Kingi to set aside emergency funds to help in sorting out the water weed menace.

"The ministry should pressurize the Lake Victoria Environmental Management Project II to move with speed to ensure the weed is wiped out of the Lake so that we continue with our daily chores," said Juma.

He lamented that a number of fishermen have lost their fishing gear in the Lake since the hyacinth started spreading. "A number of our boats and fishing nets got trapped in the Lake and we have not been able to retrieve them from the waters due to inaccessibility due to the weed," Juma added.

During the Mashujaa day celebrations last Month, Nyanza Provincial Commissioner Francis Mutie assured fishermen that necessary measures have been put in place to remove water hyacinth from Lake Victoria.

He noted that the Ministry of Fisheries was up to task to deal with the issue of water hyacinth. Local leaders including MPs Olago Aluoch (Kisumu Town West), Shakeel Shabbir (Kisumu Town East) and James Rege (Karachuonyo) have been in the forefront calling on a quick intervention by LVEMP II to save Lake Victoria from the weed. The legislators have been alarmed by the rapid spread of the weed across the Lake Victoria waters.

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