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Plastic ban, relief for Lake Victoria fishermen




Mr. Moris Okulo, an ecologist who works as a guide at Dunga Beach in Kisumu holds tilapia fish.

The ban on plastic bags manufacturing and use has been seen as an answer to the dwindling fish stocks in Lake Victoria by scientists and the fishermen themselves.

Plastic ban took effect in the country on 28 August, 2017.

“Plastic pollutants in the lake have been having damaging effects on aquatic life as well as on fishing and tourism activities,” said Dr. Paul Orina, Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute assistant director Freshwater Aquaculture.

Dr. Orina added that the lake has been heavily affected by several pollutants including plastics which have curtailed the movement of fish in the lake.

“Plastics block water ways and also interferes with the circulation of oxygen in the lake. Fish can easily be chocked as a result of interference in air supply and free movement of water,” said Orina.

As a result, he said, the breeding characteristics of some fish species have been affected negatively by pollution especially the tilapia.

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Fishermen and experts in Lake Victoria have recently expressed concerns over a possible extinction of the Tilapia Species due to high levels of pollution in the lake.

“In most cases a lot of physical waste including plastics and polythene papers are normally caught up in their fishing nets,” said Charles Ominde, fisherman at Dunga Beach.

Because of this many fishermen are being forced out of the trade because of the dwindling fish population.

“Most of our ventures have been futile because the lake is polluted and Tilapia prefers clean water,” said Moris Okulo, an ecologist who works as a guide at Dunga Beach in Kisumu

As the big fish like tilapia disappear from the lake, fisherman can also be forced to trawl for smaller fish. But by wiping out the smaller fish, who have not had time to reproduce, fisherman are threatening the species’ very survival according to the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organisation (LVFO).

Reports by LVFO states that Lake Victoria is believed to be the most productive freshwater fishery in Africa. Each year it yields more than 800,000 metric tons of fish.


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