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Fish production dwindles due to pressure

10 June 2013, 15:27 Oduor Omondi

The excessive fishing pressure in Kenya has culminated in the drastic reduction of fish production from 220 000 tonnes in the year 2000 to 130 000 tonnes in 2012, Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Felix Koskei has said.

Koskei observed that Lake Victoria has for decades been a major contributor of fisheries resource in Kenya translating to 85% of the total production nationally.

"The current fish demands cannot be met as Lake Victoria can no longer support any more fishing pressure," Koskei pointed out.

Following this, the Cabinet Secretary called for immediate action while appealing for cooperation by all stakeholders to help enforce the total ban on 'dagaa' (Omena) to ensure the closed season is adhered to for the fish to multiply.

Change of eating habits

Koskei subsequently called for change of eating habits by residents of the Lake region through reduced demand for 'Omena' either as a delicacy for human beings or as animal feed, since this poses a major threat and could lead to extinction of the fish species.

He warned that anybody found flouting the ban should brace themselves to face the full force of the law.

Koskei challenged stakeholders to promote concerted efforts for sustainable use of the fisheries resources if they hope to reduce post-harvest losses, and at the same time raise production from aquaculture to cater for the ever increasing fish demand.

The Cabinet Secretary made the remarks in a speech read on his behalf by Permanent Secretary Prof. Micheni Ntiba at RIAT College in Kisumu County where he urged small scale fish farmers to take advantage of the Trilateral Tilapia Cooperation and undertake fish farming as a business venture.

Funded by the Kenya, German and Israeli Governments to the tune of KES 262.2 million, the project seeks to enhance suitable ways of protecting Lake Victoria environment by creating alternative livelihoods for local communities.

So far, the program has 132 extension officers out of the targeted 130, and 58 farmers out of the projected 300 fish farmers trained for this purpose.

The government has invested immensely in the aquaculture sector by funding the construction and stocking of over 40 000 fish ponds across the country through its Economic Stimulus Program (ESP).

German Ambassador Margit Hellwing-Boette and Israel counterpart Gil Haskelat expressed confidence that the program started in June 2012 and set to end in June 2014 will greatly reduce the excess fishing pressure on Lake Victoria.

The project is being implemented in Western and Nyanza regions, with the Kenyan Government having contributed KES 7.98million, German donating KES 159.6million and Israel KES 2.3million respectively.

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