Recently, Lake Naivasha has seen improvements in its fishery – an important source of protein for the people living within this basin. The Fisheries Department tackled illegal fishing head on. These rogue fishers fear the patrolling fisheries officers and to avoid them, they often jump into the water where hippopotamuses may be lurking; they would rather face death by water than the fisheries officers! One fishery officer was once attacked by the illegal fishers, suffering broken bones that took months to heal. Instead of seeking legal action against the fishers, this officer decided to reach out to them and ask how they could work together to stop illegal fishing. The fishers were granted fishing licenses and a public access beach was opened specifically for them.
The former illegal fishers were empowered by being a co-manager of the fishery, and participated in ensuring that proper fishing practices were used. The Fisheries Department has also started planning for the fisheries of the future. They requested that fishermen put a small portion of their daily profits into a central fund from which they draw on to fund restocking efforts and to open a new fish market. Creating a fish market in Naivasha town with a large refrigerator could transform the fishing industry. A fisherman would no longer have to sell their catch while competing with all the other fishermen on the beach who have also just brought in their own catches. Instead, cold storage would allow for more consistent market prices, resulting in greater profits for the fishermen and easier access to food for the community members. The addition of a permanent fish market sourced from a sustainable fishery to the Lake Naivasha area would help to promote food security and economic prosperity for the future.
By: Jean Sauveur Uwitonze (MMASc in Global Health Systems in Africa Candidate); Kathleen Meszaros (Collaborative Program in Global Health Systems Candidate)