Tilapia fish in Lake Naivasha facing extinction

The popular and once dominant tilapia species in Lake Naivasha will be extinct in a couple of years, according to experts.

Already, the species accounts for only five per cent of the total catch in the fresh water body as per the latest data from the department of fisheries.

The drop in tilapia catch has been mainly attributed to the introduction of the common carp, which accounts for over 90 per cent of the fish catch.

The invasive species has been blamed for destroying the breeding zones of the tilapia species, which for years has been a favourite for consumers.

According to the Naivasha sub-county fisheries officer, Mathew Ngila, the move has dealt a big blow to the lake, which is better known for its tilapia production.

“The tilapia species faces extinction in a couple of years and we attributed this to the invasive species called common carp which destroys the breeding of the former,” he said.

He added that there were several other challenges such as poaching in the lake, but was quick to note that the four patrol boats introduced by the county government would help address this.

“Apart from poaching, we have a new challenge of cat fish, which is feeding on young tilapias and this is further affecting efforts to restock the lake with tilapia fingerlings,” he said.

Speaking in his office on Tuesday, Ngila was, however, quick to note that despite the introduction of the invasive species, the challenge of poaching and attacks by catfish, tilapia fish production in the lake would be on the rise.

Ngila said that the lake’s annual production could reach a record 1,000 metric tonnes by the end of the year; a rise from 623 metric tonnes last year.

“Currently, we have hit over 800 metric tonnes and we estimate that we shall reach 1,000 metric tonnes by the end of the year,” he said.

On their part, the fishermen admitted that fish production had dropped sharply and blamed this on weather vagaries.

One of the fish traders, Charles Oloo, said fish production depended on rain and wind patterns, adding that they expected this to rise after the El Nino rains.

“We, however, have a new bird species called Malibu stork which is both a blessing and a source of irritation around the lake,” Oloo said.

Another fisherman, Peter Kimani, noted that the number of birds had risen sharply in the last couple of months targeting fish waste.

“The bird on one hand helps clean all the fish remains around the beach but on the other hand, can be a nuisance by targeting fish for sale or disturbing customers,” he said.


Report by Karanja Kimani/written by Elainer Mogoa


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