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Fishermen continue with omena fishing despite ban

17 April 2013, 18:31 Oduor Omondi

Omena fishing in Lake Victoria is still going on despite the April - August annual ban by the government in order to enhance their breeding.

Fishermen stationed at the 200 major fish landing beaches near Lake Victoria have made up their minds to defy the ban.

They are still casting their nets wide, undeterred by the ban imposed to relieve the lake and allow immature fish to grow.

From Dunga beach in Kisumu, Muhuru Bay in Homa Bay to Wakula beach in Mfangano Island, they said they would defy the ban because it ‘interferes with source of livelihood’.

"Honestly, we rely on these small fish everyday to feed our families and generate income. Survival will be too tough for us if we heed to the government’s ban," said Alfred Onyango, a fisherman at Dunga beach.

Onyango’s sentiments are shared by another fisherman, Maurice Opondo of Ringiti Island, who said: "My family of six, and my wife, directly depend on the money I get from my fishing escapades. They also feed on what I am not able to sell since there are no other economic activities that we can undertake in the island. So, how do you expect me to abandon my trade just because the government has issued a directive, will they feed me?" he asked.

At Kisumu’s Oile and Kibuye markets, fish vendors are continuing with the booming business undeterred. Traders are seen carrying omena packed in boxes and sacks

Every year, a four-month embargo is enforced from April to August to allow for the multiplication of the fish species.

At the moment, a kilogram tin of omena in Kibuye market goes for KES 200 up from KES 150 last month. This is due to scarcity of fish in many beaches.

Meanwhile, Bondo district fisheries officer Alfred Obayo has warned security agents against soliciting bribes from traders in order to allow them sell the banned omena fish.

Obayo said some law enforcers including the police, provincial administration, fisheries officers, local authority workers and Beach Management Unit officials are taking bribes from traders.

He said those suspected to have taken the bribe will be arrested and be prosecuted.

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