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Nakuru County Restocks lakes with 26,000 fingerings

The County Government of Nakuru has started restocking Lakes Naivasha and Solai with tilapia and catfish fingerlings to curb depletion of the fish species from the two water bodies.
County Executive Committee(CEC) Member for Agriculture, Dr Immaculate Maina, stated that the exercise that cost Sh4 million saw the lakes restocked with 15,000 tilapia and 11,000 catfish fingerlings.
“We have also introduced closed fishing seasons and enforced stringent regulations on appropriate fishing equipment as a way of managing fish populations. The County has started training programmes for communities living around the water bodies on sustainable fishing methods,” said Dr Maina.
She said restocking of the two species will also be carried out in rivers and dams in Molo, Rongai, Kuresoi North and Kuresoi South Sub-counties.
The CEC who spoke on the shores of Lake Solai when she oversaw the restocking exercise noted that the County Government had set aside Sh40 million for construction of raised fish ponds within Naivasha Sub-county while the National Government had provided 1,000 pond liners to fish farmers within the County.
“It is only in Lake Naivasha where commercial fishing is allowed under very controlled conditions.
It is in the best interest of communities that residents are encouraged to establish fish ponds instead of depending on the lakes for their supply,” noted the CEC.
The practice of illegal harvesting by the unlicensed fishermen has been blamed for the depletion of tilapia and catfish in the lakes.
However, as the demand for fish continues to grow, Dr Maina said there was need to find solutions to protect the fish in the lake while ensuring that locals continued to enjoy eating fish.
The Agriculture CEC said the Department was assisting fish farmers’ co-operatives to acquire pond liners and fingerlings for their already existing active ponds.
“Fish farming not only brings income but also contributes to food security and nutrition needs of the country.
A vast number of fish ponds in the county are owned by cooperatives but if each individual member constructed their own then earnings from the sub-sector would triple” Dr Maina said.
Under the new tax regulations by the Nakuru County Government, one must obtain a Sh2,000 license to construct a pond.
Towards easing pressure on Lakes Solai and Naivasha from fishing, Dr Maina said farmers and youth groups have been trained on how to start fish farming business and will be assisted to start raising fish on their small farms around the County.
“Farmers have been trained on setting up the ponds and those with raised ponds have received fingerlings. Instead of digging fish ponds in the ground, elevated ponds are easier to set up and manage. They also provide quality species of fish. Raised fish ponds will improve the quantity and quality of fish,” said the Agriculture CEC.
According to official statistics from the County Government Lake Naivasha provides a direct source of income to more than 10,000 people, despite the competition they face from illegal fishermen.
Elsewhere, Governor Lee Kinyanjui said the County was partnering with the Rift Valley Institute of Science and Technology (RVIST) to train farmers on how to construct raised ponds.
“Fish farming is lucrative and can create jobs for the unemployed youth in the county and reduce poverty. Once the ponds are constructed, the problem of illegal fishing will be reduced significantly.
The county will also upgrade the capacity of the Lake Naivasha Beach Management Units (BMU) to protect the water body. The BMUs will help fight illegal fishing and poaching. We want to safeguard the lake from overfishing and use of small-mesh nets that catch immature fish” stated Mr. Kinyanjui
He said his Administration was testing Lake Naivasha’s salinity levels. Kinyanjui revealed that the County and the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (Kemfri) would carry out tests before restocking the water body with the popular tilapia fish that are threatened with extinction.
“Fish farming can be carried out even in arid areas where liner ponds are constructed and stocked. We are encouraging Nakuru residents to increase the use of ponds in order to reduce reliance on Lake Naivasha,” said Mr Kinyanjui.
By Anne Mwale

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