Re-Emergence of Water Hyacinth Frustrates Fishing on Lake Albert

The re-emergence of the water hyacinth that has ravaged parts of the Lake Albert waters in the districts of Hoima, Kikuube and Buliisa is affecting fishing activities in the Albertine.

The most affected landing sites include; Wanseko, Kabolwa and Bugoigo in Buliisa district, Kiryamboga, Tonya, Songagai and Mbegu in Hoima district and Senjojo, Bugoma and Kyenyanja in Kikuube district.

The water hyacinth piles in fish breeding places and cuts off oxygen supply, which has left many young fish dead, hence threatening the livelihood of thousands of people depending on fishing for a livelihood. 

Vicent Okumu, a fisherman at Wanseko landing site in Buliisa district says the weed forms dense-mat cover on water surface and affects the movement of fish, blocks boat access and the catching of fish. 

He explains that the devastating weed is hurting fishing as it destroys fishing nets and chokes fish saying they cannot navigate many parts of the lake adding that they have abandoned the boats. 

Simon Kyahurwa, a fisherman at Tonya landing site in Buseruka sub county in Hoima district says since fishing is their economic activity in the area, their families are now suffering because they are no longer working . 

He says they lay the nets to trap fish at night, but in the morning they find no fish trapped because the weed keeps entangling them, leaving them with no source of income.

Godwin Muhumuza, a fisherman at Senjojo landing site in Kikuube district says scores of fishermen have had their boats destroyed by the floating weeds whose re-emergence has had a disastrous effect not just on fishermen but other stakeholders as well, including boat riders who are unable to engage in their day to day activities.

Godfrey Wandera another fisherman says the water hyacinth is highly disastrous to the lake for its ability to cut off oxygen supply thereby causing death to aquatic life mainly fish. 

He says the hyacinth mats have reduced their catch by covering grounds, delaying access to markets because of loss of output, increasing fishing costs because of the time and effort spent in clearing waterways, forcing translocation, and causing loss of nets.   

Beatrace Birungi, a restaurant owner at Mbegu landing site in Hoima district says the stench from the water hyacinth has affected her business. 

The fishermen are now calling upon the government to come up with appropriate measures on how the hyacinth can be removed from the lake.They say they have severally alerted government officials about the dangers of the water weed, but all in vain. 

The water hyacinth first invaded the lake Albert waters in 2006 covering the districts of Hoima, Kikuube and Buliisa and some parts of Ntoroko.

Environmental experts say a combined approach to stop the further spread of the weed is necessary since it can be used as raw material for feeds and act as breeding spots for some aquatic lives.

The water hyacinth became prominent in the late 1980s and mid 1990s with its impact mostly felt in 1995 when the weed covered almost 90 percent of the Lake Victoria shoreline. 

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