Stakeholders in the fishing industry in Homa Bay County have expressed concerns over widespread use of illegal fishing gear in Lake Victoria.
Beach Management Units (BMU) officials Patrick Ochogo of Koginga beach and William Onditi of Suba Sub County said a fishing method known as trawling or “Abunglu” in the local language was depleting fish.
The method involves use of undersized nets and was introduced in various parts of the lake in Homa Bay County about a year ago.
During trawling, a large piece of net is cast in the water then towed by a boat.
“In trawling, the fishermen use a tool made of a jerican and a wooden handle to hit the water producing a sound which scares fish. As the fish try to escape, they get trapped in the net,” Ochogo said.
He said the fishing method catches fish of all sizes including young fish, which should grow and reproduce.
Ochogo said six boats with five fishermen each raided Koginga beach to fish using the method.
He said they confronted the fishermen using the illegal fishing method in their jurisdiction, but they managed to escape.
“We noticed the six boats with 30 fishermen at our fish breeding zone. We mobilized ourselves to confront them in the water, but they managed to escape because they were using engine boats while our boats were being paddled,” Ochogo said.
He said the government had stopped the fishing method but was now resurfacing.
“We want the government to intervene and help us address this issue on a long term basis. It is going to cause loss of livelihoods and we cannot keep quiet,” said Ochogo.
Onditi expressed concerns that the fishing method will cause unprecedented shortage of fish in Lake Victoria if it is not stopped soon.
“Abunglu leads to catching of both mature and immature fish. Catching young fish will deplete fish in the lake,” said Onditi.
He expressed concerns that it was difficult to stop the bad fishing method because it was operated by moneyed cartels.
“There have been several attempts to end abunglu in this lake but it seems the investors behind it are people with a lot of money to defeat justice.
Onditi called on all stakeholders to unite and fight the bad fishing method.
By Davis Langat