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Water hyacinth threatens fishing on L. Edward

KASESE, April 16, 2024 – Fishing on Lake Edward in Katwe Sub-county Kasese district is currently threatened by the water hyacinth now floating on the surface of the lake shared between Uganda and DR Congo.

This is due to heavy rains associated with winds that are forcing the stubborn weed to float over the water and hence causing the movement of boats ineffective especially when crossing to either side of Kazinga Channel Bridge.

Fishermen say they have lost some of their fishing gear because the hyacinth has pushed them away and can no longer be traced, hence affecting their livelihood.

Isa Twikirize one of the fishermen said he has lost most of his fishing gear worth millions. “I have lost my fishing gears worth millions including hooks and nets. The hyacinth which is floating on the water moves along with our nets and boats which are eventually misplaced into the water,” Twikirize said.

Twikirize said the fishermen believe that the weed moves by wind waves  all the way from L. George.

Weere Bakya, another fisherman said they are worried of repaying the loans because they are not working due to lack of the fishing tools like nets.

“Most of us have loans we supposed to pay but we are not earning because the weed has blocked the pathways and our nets have also disappeared from the waters,” he said.

Despite the water hyacinth being important for acting as breeding places for all aquatic species, a section of fishermen at Katunguru landing site in Banyaruguru County argue that the water hyacinth could multiply further with the onset of rains in Rwenzori region.

Ojede Kadiri, the chairperson Katunguru Community Development Association disclosed that the water hyacinth has blocked pathways for fishermen and facilitated illegal fishing along the lake as marine officials are no longer reaching all the lakesides.

Kadiri called upon government to look for possible solutions to stop the weed from covering the whole lake.

“As people living and working from around the lake we are trying to remove the weed but it is too much for us to much. We need  government to give us a hand because the weed is spreading like wildfire,” he said.

The Lake Katwe Subcounty chairperson LCIII, Wilson Asiimwe blamed the challenge of water hyacinth on human activities along the nearby hills, arguing that these could could be responsible for the spread of the weed.

Water hyacinth is a free-floating tropical American water plant which has been introduced elsewhere as an ornamental and in some warmer regions has become a serious weed of waterways.

Water hyacinth can completely cover lakes and wetlands , outcompeting native aquatic species , reducing water levels for disease-carrying mosquitoes.

Large infestations of water hyacinth can curtail water transport, fishing, damage bridges and clog hydropower dams.

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