MANY PROBLEMS

Fuel shortage limits Coast Guard patrols in L. Naivasha

Fish stock rises 30% since patrols apprehended illegal fishermen, seized small-mesh nets

In Summary

• Countrywide fuel shortage also limits Coast Guard patrols in Lake Naivasha. Now interested parties and beach management units chip in.

•  Patrols rid the lake of illegal fishermen, including foot fisherman using small-mesh nets to catch immature fish.

Kenya Maritime Authority regional manager Alex Mwongo shows Lake Naivasha fishermen a sample of new number plates that will be fitted on all vessels in Kenya's main water bodies.
NUMBER PLATES: Kenya Maritime Authority regional manager Alex Mwongo shows Lake Naivasha fishermen a sample of new number plates that will be fitted on all vessels in Kenya's main water bodies.
Image: GEORGE MURAGE

Lack of fuel has hampered Coast Guard patrols around Lake Naivasha, raising fears illegal fishermen could return.

As a result, security officers from the Kenya Coast Guard Service  have been forced to rely on beach management units to fuel their boats.

The fish catch has risen by more than 30 per cent since security officers resumed operations two months ago.

They had been seizing illegal fishermen, their boats and small-mesh nets that catch immature fish. They also retrieve tons of abandoned 'dead' nets.

Lake has about 300 fishermen.

The Star has learnt the Coast Guard was getting 900 litres of diesel every week but the amount has been reduced to 300 litres.

The reduction has limited their operations around the lake.

“Currently, the Coast Guards has had to reduced their patrols around the lake due to lack of fuel and we fear illegal fishermen could return," a source said.

 Lake Naivasha Network group secretary Grace Nyambura confirmed the problem, saying her group and others have been forced to chip in and buy fuel.

She said all members of the beach management units had committed funds to buy fuel for the patrols.

“We have our own that we use for patrols and we fully support the Coast Guard who have managed to keep off the illegal fishermen,” she said on Tuesday.

Nyambura said the fish catch has increased due to concerted efforts by concerned parties concerned about foot fishermen and undersized nets.

“This lake has many challenges, including overfishing, failure to restock, pollution and a rise in the number of minors involved in fishing,” she said during a meeting.

Naivasha deputy commissioner Mutua Kisilu agreed the lake had many problems, including illegal fishing and dead, abandoned nets.

He said the state was keen to change the narrative around the lake by making it more habitable and resource rich.

“We expect the fish catch from this lake to rise once we free it from the tonnes of dead nets that have been choking it for months,” he said.

Hellsgate MCA Virginia Wamaitha said the lake was critical to the region's economy as it employs many youths and traders.

“This is our farm," she said, "and we are ready to protect it by removing the abandoned nets so the yield can increase in the coming days."

(Edited by V. Graham)

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