Worries as plastics choke life in Lake Victoria

Friday, May 27th, 2022 08:15 | By
Fishermen in Mahanga beach in Mageta island in Siaya County volunteers to collect plastic wastes in the Lake that has so far lead to the increasing deaths of fish within the lake. PD/Viola Kosome

Lake Victoria is chocking under micro-plastics and other forms of pollution like water hyacinth despite persistent calls for quick intervention by various stakeholders.

This concern has resulted in common buzz words; “reduce,” “reuse” and “recycle” trending in fora where environmentalists, researchers and journalists converge to make calls on the respective East African countries to coordinate their strategies with a view to protecting Lake Victoria, the world’s second-largest freshwater lake.

Recent research conducted on water samples drawn from 50 metres below the surface 75 per cent of the work done indicates that between 300 to 5,000 MTs per square km of plastic was being dumped on the water bed with stakeholders saying fish were consuming a great amount of it.

In a presentation to more than 300 journalists attending the second day of the four-day MESHA online conference, Bahati Sosthenes Mayoma a micro-plastic specialist and assistant lecturer at Dar es Salaam University said worldwide, plastic remains a major environmental challenge and a cause of economic disasters.

“Globally, up to 350 million tons of plastics are produced annually with 115 million tons floating in the vast water masses. As a result, and if not checked, the ratio between plastic and fish could increase tremendously to 5:1 in terms of weight. This does not augur well for humanity,” cautioned Mayoma.

Similarly, the toxic chemicals and other effluents from the numerous industries not only killed the fish in our rivers and lakes before finally reaching Lake Victoria but also swept along sediments which get dumped on the bed of the water masses.

Moreover, the plastic menace entangled tourism, fisheries and ship transportation on the water masses even though Lake Victoria supports over 30 million people.

With this reality, fishermen in the three East African Community (EAC) member states: Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda have suffered the impact yet over 70 per cent of fish export from Tanzania is from this water mass, he explained.   

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