Turkana fishermen alarmed by undersized fish catch

Say the stock will be depleted if such fishing continues. Banned on December 31, 2019.

In Summary
  • Kalokol residents led by Michael Ebenyo say Congolese fish dealers are colluding with county officers to buy undersized fish, which is forbidden.
  • County Agriculture and Fisheries official denies collusion and says they have met Congolese dealers to discuss the problem but they continue to buy undersized fish.
Fishmongers at Lake Turkana. Sale of immature fish was banned on December 31, 2019.
SMALL FRY: Fishmongers at Lake Turkana. Sale of immature fish was banned on December 31, 2019.

Kalokol residents have raised the alarm over overfishing and undersized fish in Lake Turkana

Residents of Kalokol in Turkana Central subounty want enforcement of catching undersized fish banned, saying it will reduce the fish population.

Residents said despite the ban on catching undersized fish, some officers from the department of fisheries and Congolese fish dealers are illegally exporting undersized fish.

They said fish dealers from the DRC are buying undersized fish for export to the DRC by bribing officers in charge to sell them licenses.

Turkana County under the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries issued a Gazette notice last year warning fishermen against catching undersize fish from December 2019.

DRC dealers are the main buyers of Turkana fish for export and Turkana fishermen also supply fish to Busia, Kisumu, Kitale and Nairobi.

Kalokol residents led by Michael Ebenyo said many fishermen have flocked to the lake

"I tried personally to raise the issue with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries but to date catching undersized fish has not been stopped," he said.

Sources told the Star that in a week four lorries loaded with undersize fish are headed to the DRC. They said they pay Sh100,000 for each lorry lacking a receipt.

Turkana Leader of Red Vests Movement, Jackson Ekai, popularly known as  Salman said fish dealers are pay as little as Sh1 for one fish.

Undersized fish are exported to Brazil to make chicken feed, he said.

Sylvain Tshepelayi, a fish dealer from the DRC, denied allegations of bribery. 

“It’s not in our interest to buy undersized fish for export. In fact, we make heavy losses. We request the Kenyan Government set a time Ifrom for fishing so that we come when fish are large enough and mature," he said.

However, Agriculture and Fisheries CEC denied claims that his officers were allowing the catching of undersized fish.

“We held several meetings with Congolese fish dealers about buying undersize fish but they carry on with their activities of acquiring undersize fish for sale,” he told the Star by phone.

(Edited by V. Graham)