The government of Kenya has announced plans to set up an insurance policy for fish farming. The move follows the recent loss experienced by fish cage farmers in Lake Victoria which experts from the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI) have attributed to upwelling and pollution.
KMFRI explained that the fish died due to upwelling, a natural phenomenon that involves temperature changes and oxygen depletion. Upwelling usually takes about an hour, but during the process, fish confined in cages are often deprived of oxygen.
KMFRI also blamed heavy pollutants and discharge of raw sewage into Lake Victoria, which has caused algae and the ferocious water weed hyacinth to grow. More than 364 million fish are believed to have died, with an estimated value of 1.4 billion Kenyan shillings. With the fish dying, a heavy stench hovers over parts of Kisumu city for at least one month now.
The pungent smell according to KMFRI, is caused by the 8000 acres of decomposed water hyacinth and other aquatic plants, that are also being swept from the lake floor and floating near the surface covering the town with a heavy stench especially in the afternoon when the sun is up. According to Dr. Christopher Aura, the director of fresh water systems at KMFRI, the smell will last depending on the available organic matter.
Mining, Blue Economy and Maritime Affairs Cabinet Secretary (CS) Salim Mvurya said the policy will help in compensating the farmers. Meanwhile this financial year, the government has allocated funds to build modern fish landing sites at Wichlum beach in Siaya county and Ogal beach in Kisumu county. The facilities which will be installed with cold storage facilities, will go a long way in assisting the farmers keep their produce as they look for markets.