The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Fishermen Push for Urgent Hyacinth Removal

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

FISHERMEN and Lake Victoria Environmental Management Project II have locked horns over the manual removal of water hyacinth from Lake Victoria.

The fishermen favour a manual removal process as an immediate solution, but LVEMP II says the process is not a priority. The environmental body says the removal of the hyacinth manually is not cost effective.

LVEMP II National Project coordinator Francisca Owuor said they want to adopt a more suitable approach through the use of mechanical harvesting and biological control.

"Manual removal can be used at a later stage after the level of infestation has been significantly reduced," Owuor said. She said LVEMP II is currently not involved in the removal of the weed at the lake.

But speaking in Kisumu yesterday, the fishermen called on LVEMP II to reconsider its stand. Speaking on behalf of the fishermen, the chairman of Magnam Environmental Management Network Michael Nyaguti said:

"I wish to oppose this new development that comes at a time when the gulf around Kisumu city is totally blocked by the hyacinth weed." Nyaguti said the weed is hindering transport and fishing activities, hence the need to put in place immediate measures to curb the weed."

He said many fishermen were out of work because of the hyacinth canopy that covers the fishing grounds. Nyaguti said the fishermen are losing Sh40 million daily, because of the weed.

He said more than 200 Beach Management Units fishermen across the Nyanza region cannot fish because the weed has spread in all the four counties.

The project has not entered into any contract or agreement with any individual, group of individuals, institution or organization to the effect of removing water hyacinth either manually or by any means, for free or payment, Owuor said.

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.

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