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First fish cage culture in Busia County introduced

Busia County Government  with the support of the  Finnish Government through PALWECO,   have introduced the first  fish cage culture in Busia  to  save  Lake Victoria which  is experiencing  dwindling  production of  capture fish  due to overfishing,  poor fishing  methods, pollution and climate  change.
Bukoma Beach in  Bunyala West Ward  is  the recipient of 18 cages  which have been stocked with 2,000  fingerlings  each  bringing it to a total of  36,000 fingerlings.
Busia County Water Ambulance  was in hand to ferry dignitaries to  Munaka area   where the cages are positioned ,  about 10km from Bukoma Beach
Director of Fisheries  Timothy Odende said  during the launch at Bukoma Beach that  60  more cages will be  introduced  in other beaches  in Bunyala and Samia and which will be managed by  Beach Management  Units.
Odende said  fish cage  was introduced   to reduce  pressure on the Lake.  ” We shall have two  days  in a week where fishermen  will  not interfere with the Lake to give it a breather.”
County Executive Committee member for  Finance and ICT  Leornard Obimbira  said  cage farming  will boost  farmers’  incomes and reduce  overfishing on the lake.
PALWECO Director Madakhana Mbaya  said introduction of fish cage  will  end   arbitrary arrests of Kenyan fishermen  who go to fish  on  Ugandan side of the lake.
The planned increase in  fish cages  will  boost fish stock  and assurance  of ready -made  market in Nairobi   which had remained  elusive for Busia businessmen,” he said.
 The  two  of the remaining  cages  will be used  for purposes  of accommodating  some of the  tilapia fish  from the 18  cages as they grow bigger. The  first harvest will Fish will be ready for harvest after  six months.
 One  fish cage is expected  to produce  at least  1,800 fish  which is equivalent to  720kg. If the farmers make  a good harvest, they can expect to raise  about  Sh216,000 from one cage  and this will  translate  to about Sh3.9m,” he said.
Odende said  fish  farmers  from other parts of the  County which don’t border the lake  can start the cage farming  on the lake  but the management of the cage will be left to  BMUs.
He said  the County Government will  outsource  a firm to offer technical management  services  with  BMUs  to provide security.
For ownership and  sustainability  of the project, the BMUs will  contribute  towards the payment of  the caretaker’s fees.
This enterprise  is well thought  out  and its is key  to improving the livelihoods  of the fish farmers  by enabling them  meet their  household needs  as well as  other socio-economic  needs,” Odede said.
Photos: Fish cages floating  on  Lake Victoria, Bukoma Beach in Bunyala sub county

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Busia fishermen on Lake Victoria have decried low fish prices in Kenya, thus forcing them to seek market in neighboring Uganda. Mulukoba Beach Management Unit vice chairman Alfed Agufwa said Ugandan market attracts Sh70 more per kilogram than in Kenya considering transportation costs. ” We incur a lot in transporting fish to Nairobi and earning Sh70 less than if we could sell the same fish in Uganda at no cost incurred,” he said. Speaking while receiving a delegation from Busia County Government led by Director of Administration Robert Muganda on Tuesday, Agufwa had also good news to fishermen on the stock of fish on Lake Victoria. He said fish especially the Tilapia species has increased from 300 kilograms to one ton daily at Mulukoba beach in the past few days due to rising water levels. ” Fishermen are happy with the latest developments. Our only undoing is the market in Kenya which is scarce and with the available ones offering “peanuts” for our fish,” he said. Regarding tribulations Kenyan fishermen were being subjected to on Ugandan waters, Agufwa blamed Kenyans security for sleeping on the job and allowing their Ugandan counterparts to capitalize on the loopholes to harass Kenyan fishermen. ” Kenyan security are supposed to monitor Kenyan boundaries on the Lake but it is not the case. Instead Uganda Revenue Authority, Marine and Fisheries departments in Uganda to patrol the waters . We are victims of harassment from such patrols and our fish and wares confiscated. Kenyan security should also take the initiatives to patrol the Lake to earn respect from their Ugandan colleagues,” he said. Agufwa narrated other challenges facing Kenyan fishermen. ” We have no enough water on the Kenyan side of the Lake. When we are found on the ” Ugandan waters ” we are given conditions to have the fish processed in Uganda or we forfeit our fish stock.” Photo: Mulukoba Beach Management Unit vice chairman Alfed Agufwa at their Mulukoba Beach offices on Tuesday.

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