Tuesday, April 23, 2024
Home > Counties > KWS to crack down on illegal fishing

KWS to crack down on illegal fishing

The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has vowed to crack down on illegal fishing in Lake Nakuru in a move aimed at reducing cases of human-wildlife conflict that have seen many lives lost.

KWS Senior Assistant Director in Charge of the Central Rift Conservation Area, Mr. Joseph Dadacha, issued a stern warning against the practice, which he said was now becoming a threat to both humans and wildlife.

The Assistant Director said due to the lake’s rising waters, locals had turned Mwariki and Baruti locations within Nakuru Town West Sub-County into fishing grounds where the illegal fishermen had devised ingenious ways of using illegal fishing gadgets to indiscriminately carry out the trade at either dawn or at night.

“We will now move and arrest illegal fishermen around the lake, have them prosecuted, and destroy their fishing gear,” Mr. Dadacha warned.

He said KWS was committed to ensuring that cases of human-wildlife conflict, among other challenges that have been leading to the loss of lives around the lake, are eradicated.

The Assistant Director made the remarks when KWS released over 150 boats and engines that had been impounded after their owners were nabbed for engaging in illegal fishing at Lake Nakuru National Park.

The release of the fishing equipment was brokered by Governor Susan Kihika and Naivasha Member of Parliament, Ms. Jayne Kihara.

Lake Nakuru hosts the world-renowned Lake Nakuru National Park, which is home to wildlife including gazelles, baboons, zebras, leopards, and buffaloes, among others.

Lake Nakuru also serves as a sanctuary for the endangered black and white rhinos.

Nakuru County Secretary Dr. Samuel Mwaura announced the formation of a multi-agency taskforce involving KWS, county enforcement personnel, public health officers, the county commissioner’s office, and police officers to enforce the fishing ban.

Dr. Mwaura disclosed that the county had collected fish samples from the lake and sent them to the government chemist to ascertain the presence of heavy metals, as highlighted in previous reports.

The Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KEMFRI) warned in its 2021 report that fish taken from the lake had a high presence of toxic substances.

In December last year, research by four scientists attached to KWS revealed that samples of fish collected from the lake had high levels of organ chlorine pesticide (OCP).

The four researchers noted in their findings that Nile tilapia harvested from the lake was not safe for human consumption, recommending that policymakers implement mitigation measures.

However, fishermen at the shores of Lake Nakuru have ignored findings by the experts that fish in the water body are laden with toxic elements that pose a health hazard and have continued to either consume them or sell them to members of the public.

The booming tilapia and mud fish business continues to thrive even after various studies showed that fish tissue samples from the lake had high levels of nitrates and traces of other hazardous chemicals.

Though officials from Nakuru County Health Department and the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) have been manning the fishing points to keep away both commercial and subsistence fishermen, much of the illegal fishing activity continues unabated outside the game reserve and private farms where the lake waters have spilled over.

Lake Nakuru, according to a recent study, currently has three newly introduced tilapia fish species that previously never existed.

Until the recent rise in water levels in the lake, researchers say only one species, Tilapia Grahami, which was introduced in 1953, existed within the soda lake. The new fish species has attracted locals and has seen makeshift eateries spring up on the boundaries of lakeshores.

By Esther Mwangi

Leave a Reply