• The lake has over 200 licensed fishermen. Fishermen, officials want Coast Guard to leave.
• Number of illegal fishermen on the rise but they were supposed to decline.
The crisis in Lake Naivasha has deepened with fisheries and boat owners demanding the Kenya Coast Guard Service leave the lake.
Fishermen and their families are accusing security officers of working with illegal fishermen at night and in breeding grounds, leading to a sharp drop in fish catch.
Fishermen in Lake Naivasha are calling for the immediate disbandment of the Kenya Coast Guards Service unit for failing to contain illegal fishing.
The move comes barely a week after the fisheries department fell out with the Coast Guard, leading to the suspension of their joint patrols.
A senior Coast Guard officer, however, blamed the fisheries officers for conducting night patrols without involving them.
He spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject and because he was not authorised to speak on behalf of the service.
“We had a meeting with the security committee sometime back and it was agreed that we hold joint patrols but the fisheries department has ignored this,” the officer told the Star on the phone.
Through the Lake Naivasha and Oloidien boat owners’ associations, the fishermen have petitioned Interior CS Kithure Kindiki, warning the fisheries sector was on the brink of collapsing.
Association chairperson Grace Nyambura, the Coast Guard had failed in their responsibility and had on several occasions threatened fisheries officers and fishermen.
She alleged that illegal gangs working with the support of Coast Guard officers had taken over the lake, stealing their catch and vandalising their nets.
“We have raised the issue with the senior officers of the Coast Guard but no action has been taken and we are appealing to the CS for Interior to disband this unit,” she said.
Nyambura accused the security officers of economic sabotage, adding that many of the fishermen could barely eke out a living from fishing.
She was supported by Simon Nyongesa who criticised the Coast Guard for the fishing problems in the lake.
“We fully back the calls to kick the Coast Guard out of the lake as they are openly working with illegal fishermen leading to a drop in fish catch,” he said.
This was echoed by fisherman Haminton Were who said that it was becoming impossible to feed their families or service their loans due to a drop in the fish catch.
“We pay our licences on time but we have been kicked out of the fishing business by the illegal fishermen who have support from the security officers,” he said.
Trader Josephine Auma said the poachers took over fishing, adding that their families were sleeping hungry in the the current crisis.
(Edited by V.Graham)