ILLEGAL fishing together with destruction of the environment has resulted into depletion of at least 400 fish species in Lake Victoria in the last four decades.
Authorities have pledged close monitoring of the fishing gear to avert intensification of the threat. Kagera Regional Commissioner (RC) Fabian Massawe has reminded the fishermen and the general public to avoid using explosives like dynamite and other unrecommended fishing methods which destroy the ecological balance of the lake.
Speaking on the regional economic planning and challenges faced in the last five years which now required extra supervision, the RC gave an example of aggressive measures taken by the government to control the situation. "Impounded fishing gear worth 611.4m/- have been destroyed.
These include 6,089 gillnets which are below six inches, 469 mono-filaments, 317 beach seines, dagaa nets below 8 millimetres and 192,274 metres of ropes used to tug beach seizes," RC Masawe explained. He added, "Additional efforts are necessary.
Change of attitude among fishermen and the general pubic cannot be overstated. People must realise that the resources belong to them and once depleted they will suffer the economic consequences. This is a collective responsibility and each of us must play part," he said. The RC said modern fishing gear increased from 1,077 engine boats in 2005 to 1,942 engine boats in 2010.
Also a total of 286 fishermen were trained on modern fishing techniques. "I call upon each of you to remain vigilant and expose all those behind the illegal fishing including dynamite fishing. "All fishermen must be licensed and their vessels registered," he said.
Meanwhile, the number of Savings and Credit Cooperative Societies (SACCOS) in Kagera region has increased from 232 in 2005 to 289 in 2010, equivalence of 80.3 per cent increase. RC Massawe revealed that the working capital for SACCOS in the region also increased from 2.2bn/- in 2005 to 6.3bn/- in 2010. He said the SACCOS also secured loans amounting to 1.4bn/-.
Kagera Region has three viable Cooperative Unions namely Kagera Cooperative Union (KCU), Karagwe District Cooperative Union (KDCU) and Biharamulo Cooperative Union (BCU). As for environmental conservation, Mr Massawe said a total of 40.9 million trees were planted during the same period in efforts to preserve the environment.
As for honey harvesting, modern bee-hives have also increased in number from 151,860 in 2005 to 212,250 in 2010. Diary cattle as well increased in number from 18,200 to 19,843 in the specified period, while the number of cows serviced with artificial insemination increased from 4,198 (2005) to 6,222 by 2010.