KENYA – Africa’s largest fresh water lake, Lake Victoria has recorded a decline in Fish production, dropping to its lowest in five years to 90,743 tonnes amid water pollution and restrictive laws.

According to Economic Survey 2020, Kenya’s fish output from the lake has declined by 19,159 tonnes over the period from the 109,902 tonnes realised in 2015.

The presence of heavy metals such as mercury, lead and copper in the lake has degraded quality of water making it harder for some fish species to breed.

“The fish catch from Lake Victoria has been dwindling over the years as a result of water pollution and restrictions on fishing in neighbouring countries such as Uganda and Tanzania,” said the Economic Survey 2020.

Kibos Sugar and the Kisumu County-owned Kisumu Water and Sewerage Company are among firms that have been blamed for routinely failing to meet the standards set by the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) for treating waste before releasing it to the sewer line.

It is this waste from the industries along the lake, untreated sewerage and widespread practice of open defecation that have continued to contaminate the lake.

The degraded quality of water of Lake Victoria has compelled fishermen to travel deep inside the water body to cast nets and get a catch.

This and the pollution on the lake has drastically reduced the number of fish in the lake and denied fishermen revenue.

Even with dwindling harvests, Lake Victoria accounted for 62.5 per cent of the 120,873 fresh water fish in 2019.

In early 2000, 150,000 to 200,000 tonnes of fish catch was achieved annually.

Recently, the European Union injected £2m (US$2.2m) into the European Union Development Fund’s E€OFISH programme initiated in the Lake Victoria region to boost sustainable fisheries for the blue economy.

The overall objective of the program is to enhance equitable economic growth by promoting sustainable fisheries in the Eastern and Southern Africa and Indian Ocean regions.

The programme to be implemented under the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization (LVFO), has been endorsed by the First E€OFISH Regional Programme Steering Committee (PSC).

Member states in the LVFO programme are Tanzania, Burundi, Kenya and Uganda.