Fishing activities have been abandoned in Kasenda sub county, Kabarole district following mass death of fish. Kasenda is a host of at least 17 crater lakes that normally teem with fishing and tourism activities.
However the activities have been halted after excessive algae blooms covered five of the crater lakes in the area. The algae has reportedly reduced the levels oxygen suffocating the fish to death.
The affected crater lakes are Mwamba, Rugembe, Ryankenzi, Ndikya and Kanyango.
Fred Ahimbisibwe a fisherman at Mwamba told URN reporter that thousands of dead fish have been stretching out covering the water since mid-December last year.
Ahimbisibwe like most of his counterparts have left the fishing activity because there is no more catch.
He says there is already a fish stock out in the area, Adding that they are yet to get any report on the matter from their leaders.
“The fish have all died and we as fish workers have nothing to depend on, our call is to the leaders to intervene…” Ahimbisibwe told URN.
Thomas Mugisa another fisherman at Rugembe crater lake was found lonely smoking silver fish on the shores as he stared at his abandoned boat.
Mugisa narrated that it all begun with formation of the green matters from the middle of the lake before it stretched out all over the lake leaving the fish dead.
Christopher Bikoraomuhangi a businessman neighbouring Ryankenzi crater lake told URN that they are witnessing a shocking and smelly phenomenon due to the decomposing algae and the dead fish.
The businessman says his business has equally gone down after many of his clients-usually fishermen abandoned their activities.
Ruth Mainuka says the residents who have been getting domestic water for use from these lakes now have to trek long distances to get safer water.
Brian Rwomubahuma the manager Lake Mwamba tourism beach in Kohogo village attributes the problem to contamination of water by eroded soils from gardens hanging around the crater lakes.
According to Rwomibahuma once washed down the soils mixed up with the sand below the lake generating heat which in turn gives a way fumes that lead to formation of algae.
At the beach there is no activity because clients cannot do canoe riding or sport fishing activities as usual.
Rwomubahuma calls on the government to enlighten the community on conservation of environment around the crater lakes.
Deus Byabashaija is the chairperson fishing groups in Kasenda town council.
He says over 40 fishermen who have been conducting their businesses on the waters currently have nothing to live on.
Byabasaija acknowledges that the crater lakes have been contaminated with filthy materials and soils from gardens surrounding the lake.
“When you cultivate on the slopes of crater lake, the soils run off into the water contaminating it, at the moment most of us have nothing to eat…” Byabashaija noted
His call is to the leaders to support the affected group start up income generating projects
Wilber Byamukama, the councilor representing Kasenda parish to the sub county alleged that they compiled a report on the issue and it was submitted to the district.
However, there has been slow response from the district.
The councilor added that the sub county has been forced to suspend revenue collection from the lakes.
Brian Baguma the Kabarole District Fisheries officer told URN reporter on Friday that water samples for both Kanyango and Ndikya are expected to be picked by the National fisheries resources research institute-NAFIRRI for testing.
He also added that Mwamba lake occasionally experiences seasonal mixing of water.
The 303 meters deep lake occasionally kills the fish when water volumes increase on account that deep waters having less oxygen.
Baguma however says previous testing done in 2015 when the district contracted a company to restock the crater lakes found majority of the waters good for fish breeding.
In 2015 Kabarole district local government and Ferdsult Engineering Company entered into an agreement allowing Ferdsult to take over and restock fish in 20 crater lakes in the district.
However, Twerwaheno Listeners Club, a human rights organization based in Fort Portal and six residents living around the crater lakes sued Kabarole district, the Attorney General and Ferdsult over the deal.
In 2017, the then Fort Portal Resident Judge Anthony Ojok Ayuko, canceled the memorandum of understanding on grounds that the consultations with the fishermen were not exhaustive.
Algae are microscopic plants that live in the surface waters of the lakes.
As these green algae decompose on the shore, they often give off a very pungent smell and degrade the water quality.