Fish caging gains popularity at Migori – Kenya News Agency
Low fish stocks in Lake Victoria have become a blessing in disguise as cage fish farming increases on the lake, which is expected to lead to high fish stocks.
Experts argue that the low fish stock in the lake ironically does not dampen the economic growth of the sector, but attracts additional investment in the form of cage fish farming, which will boost the necessary supply and stabilize fish prices. swollen.
Migori County Fisheries Technical Officer Stanley Muloma predicts that in the short term, the proliferation of private fish cages on the lake would effectively increase the supply of fish to the market and prices would stabilize.
“In the short term, there will be no problem with a shortage of fish. Reliable supplies will be available and the ability to produce more will be provided by fish cages to meet demand comfortably, ”Muloma told KNA in an interview.
But he said the low fish stock in L. Victoria, now at an all-time low, was helping to attract critical new investment in the form of fish cage growth and, to a large extent, increasing. of the production of fish ponds in the villages.
“I have no doubt that the many fish cages growing like mushrooms in the lake and the unwavering efforts of the government to increase the production of the fish ponds will bring additional supplies and additional production in the next two to three years and even beyond that, “he said.
The strong demand for fish and the rapid decline of the L. Victoria stock are already creating a desire for alternative fish production, as well as the development of fish cage activities on the lake and efforts to promote pond production. fish in the region.
Muloma explained that the private sector is at the forefront of embracing the alternative trend of growing and producing fish in the lake and that last year alone, more than 20 new entrants have entered the business.
It is estimated that there will be over 100 caged fish farmers in the lake by the end of this year on the Migori County side alone.
“The promising business today attracts most of the investors compared to those who go to the lake to fish with boats and fishing gear,” the officer added.
The Migori Fisheries Department did not wait for the situation to completely collapse to the point of not finding a single piece of fish on the market, but did everything possible to regenerate the fish stocks in the lake by other means.
“We have been very, very aggressive in providing investment opportunities for companies and individuals who want to invest in producing fish in cages and ponds, granting them licenses without introducing so much red tape,” said Mr. Muloma.
“We want to take fish production through caging to another level, where farmers grow fish with the intention of supplying large industries, with huge capacities to create jobs for Kenyans,” did he declare.
Lake Victoria is currently home to many caged fish farmers, who are targeting all fish factories in Nairobi, Mombasa and elsewhere in Kenya and outside Kenya with their products.
The aim is to fill the shortage of fish produced from the body of water which has slowly drifted backwards due to the shortage of fish in the lake, triggered by the poor fishing methods of the fishermen, who use illegal fishing gears that catch even young fish and destroy fish breeding grounds.
The routine of gratuitously polluting the lake by surrounding factories emitting toxic chemicals into the lake, indiscriminately killing aquatic life, has become the bane of the fishing industry in Kenya and other states. East Africa.
Kenya, Muloma said, must introduce appropriate mechanisms to protect the lake from the current negative means of exploiting its resources and to promote cage farming in the lake.
This will allow farmers to make fish farming a predictable business while ensuring that cages and all fishing expeditions in the lake have a constant supply.
However, commercial fish farming in the region has not been rosy for local farmers who have faced a myriad of challenges including human theft and bird infestations, inadequate government support, insufficient numbers. extension workers and high costs. of fish production, which involves expensive fish feed.
Muloma said farmers would only get optimal fish production and good incomes if national and county governments put in place better strategies to support farmers through the deployment of adequate extension agents.
National and county governments should produce and supply fingerlings and help farmers increase the number of cages, modernize hatcheries and make efforts to subsidize fish feed and other fish farming inputs, in order to avoid that farmers do not incur high production costs.
By George Agimba