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Germany, Israel in bid to save Lake Turkana fish

Monday, August 20, 2012 - 00:00 -- BY SAMUEL OTIENO
Migingo/Ugingo fishermen unite after President Museveni Kisumu visit
Fishermen at the disputed Migingo Island of Lake Victoria. On the opposite side is the Ugingo Island. The Kenyan and Ugandan fishermen in the two Islands have united after PM Raila Odinga hosted Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in Kisumu and Bondo over the Weekend.Photo Justus Ochieng

THE government in conjunction with Israel and German have step up efforts to reduce over-fishing in Lake Victoria. The three governments at the weekend signed an agreement to promote fish farming in a bid to reduce over reliance on the lake. The first ever trilateral agreement with Germany and Israel will bridge the current demand fish deficit and increase production.

Germany Minister for Economic Co operation and Development Dirk Niebel and the deputy Minister of State for Israel Danny Ayalon represented their countries. They said their governments are committed to the partnership. Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who presided over the signing ceremony at the Kisumu’s Ramogi Institute of Advanced Technology, said the treaty will be an eye opener in the fishing industry.

He said Kenya is yet to fully exploit the potential of fish farming adding that the tripartite deal will go a long way in putting the more than 1.4 billion hectares of prime area into productive use. “The country’s aquaculture potentials stand at 1.4 Billion hectares of farming area with a capacity to produce 11 million tons of fish that is worth well over Sh50 billion annually,” Raila said.

The German Co operation for International Dvelopment and the Israeli agency for International Development co operation jointly plan to sponsor research studies in aquaculture related fields at RIAT. The premier also announced that RIAT may soon be upgraded to university status with some reputable institutions like the Florida Agricultural Mechanical university were already offering degree courses at the college.

He said the signing of the agreement was a culmination of a long working relationship among the three nations citing the ongoing “Omena Value Chain” sensitization programme for small scale fish traders associations. He said the government was determined to restore and maintain the biodiversity for the planned aquaculture ventures to scale up the supply chain to the ever increasing demand for fish products.

Odinga said the location of the study Centre at RIAT was befitting the stature of the college which had become a centre of excellence in the training of aquaculture professionals in the Western region. He said states within the East African Community were intensifying surveillance and control of the ecosystem around the lake Victoria following reports that production had dwindled due to excessive pressure on existing water bodies.

The premier said the development of aquaculture will economically empower communities around the lakes as it will create alternative livelihoods while conserving the environment. He said communities residing along the Lake Victoria basin had high expectations that the deal will uplift their living standards because the agreement had factored some components of the Millennium Development Goals.