Mysterious death of fish in Lake Victoria leaves farmers counting losses

Kisumu fishermen have been left counting major losses after the deaths of fish in numerous numbers within their fishing cages.

The fish farmers have been counting losses amounting to millions after their sudden deaths along Lake Victoria. 

According to Edward Oremo, chairman Homa Bay beach management unit, the losses incurred are costly because there are 90 and more fish cages affected. 

“Every cage has about 6000 fish you multiply on the lower side by 200 or 300 shillings per piece it can even get to Ksh.100 million,” says Oremo. 

Based on Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute report the fish in sections of Lake Victoria have been dying due to suffocation within the water.

Elaborating that the low oxygen levels are caused by a natural phenomenon called potted upwelling, where changes in wind direction affect the currents in the lake causing the mixing of the deep waters with waters from the surface on sections of the lake.

“The water which is on the surface is light and has high temperatures it is forced to move away and the water from below comes up and occupies that space therefore a problem face by the fish in the cage is that they are confined and so when there is that upwelling which will take about an hour or less the fish confined in the cages faced with lack of oxygen succumb,” says Dr. Joseph Nyaundu, a researcher at KMFRI. 

These deaths have sent out a wave of not only losses decried by fish farmers, vendors, and consumers but also a fear of consuming fish as well as a pungent smell over Kisumu City.

“This is the job I do every day to fend for my family. If the government can perhaps check to tell us how they will help us with food and how we can take our children to school then we will appreciate it,” says David Ogal, a fish harvester. 

“People are not comfortable eating the fish. Even when you go to buy it you are not sure of what could be inside it,” says Emily Achieng, a food vendor. 

Dr. Christopher Aura, the director of freshwater systems at KMFRI, says the smell will last depending on the available organic matter. 

“The organic matter is the water hyacinth that has sunk and other aquatic plants that have sunk and of course, the pungent smell will decline and go only if there is increased rainfall to cause precipitation and strong winds,” says Aura. 

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