Lake Turkana Fishery: Options for Development of a Sustainable Trade. A Study Report.
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Corporate AuthorSNV (Netherlands Development Organization)
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AbstractFrom a trade and development point of view, Lake Turkana has been relatively neglected, at least in the last decade. During the same time, the opinion among many people, even in the fishery sector, has been that the lake is at risk of drying up, suffers high salinity levels that affects fish growth, and the fish in it is infested with parasites. Partly as a result of this neglect and opinions: • There is little fishing in the lake, especially when the Ferguson's gulf is dry. The few fishers in the lake (3,000) mainly use artisanal craft, which is unsuitable for navigating the open waters sections of the lake which suffer strong diurnal wind patterns • Fish harvested here suffers high post harvest losses due to lack of hygiene and sanitation facilities for its handling, and the bulk of what remains is dried under dusty conditions, resulting in a five-fold loss in market value. This exacerbates poverty among Lake Turkana fishers. • There are hardly any research or management activities around the lake, mainly because the few Government staff around the fishery lack the necessary capacity (resources, equipment, personnel) to undertake their duties. There is some fishery support activities being undertaken by development organizations and NGOs, but these are minimal and uncoordinated. Research activities in the 1970's and 1980's (which are the only recent comprehensive research in the lake) greatly contributed to our current understanding of the lake, and also made significant investments in infrastructure for accessing the lake. From these research expeditions, it was established that a conservative estimate of the average sustainable yield offish from this lake is 30,000MT, but could be much higher when the Ferguson's Gulf is full as a result of flooding from river Omo. The research also established that fluctuations of water levels in Lake Turkana are periodic and normal, and in fact have at times been worse, like in the 1945-60 period when the lake had lost about 4m depth. Based on observations of higher salinities in water pools in the lakes islands (which support vibrant fish life), the theory of unsustainable lake salinities was dispelled. The research also identified higher than average fish growths in the lake (comparable to intensive aquaculture farms). It also identified an Alestes minutus fishery estimated at over 500,000MT per year, which could be developed into an industrial feed fishery. The concern about the presence of fish parasites in the lake was not recorded in past research expeditions, and current observations of it indicate that it is scarce, and Lake Turkana Fishery/ SNV 4 possibly manageable through best practices of isolating parasites from processed fish. Based on these observations, it is clear that the traditionally exploited fish of this lake could yield about 2.4 billion Ksh (when sold fresh at an average price of 1US$/kg), and the A. minutus industrial fishery about 17 billion Ksh annually (assuming 1US$/kg dried weight). Considering that this is the largest lake in Kenya (about twice in size compared with Kenya's area of lake Victoria), and that it can greatly contribute to economic development of the arid Lake Turkana region and the country in general, there is need for urgent measures to develop trade in Lake Turkana fisheries.
Publisher or UniversitySNV (Netherlands Development Organization)