Climate variability could cost fisheries sector billions

By Judith Akolo

The fisheries sector in the country could lose in excess of Kshs 100 billion as a result of climate variability.

Fisheries and Blue Economy PS Prof. Micheni Ntiba says rising temperatures, drying rivers and low water levels in lakes are impacting the aquaculture sector.

The effects of climate variability and changing rainfall patterns have begun impacting on the fisheries sector.

“Rising temperatures in the water bodies that are home to various fish species have irreversibly altered the pH in rivers and lakes ecosystems resulting in acidification altering the physical properties of fish habitats,” said Prof. Ntiba.

He global warming could lead to loss of cold-water fish farming areas including Mt. Kenya region, Nanyuki, Aberdares and Mt. Elgon region.

Speaking at a workshop on strengthening climate risk preparedness and response to improving the resilience of agri-food systems and agricultural livelihoods, Prof. Ntiba said any construction of aquaculture infrastructure will have to take into consideration climate information in order to mitigate losses when water amounts reduce.

Adverse climatic conditions have impacted agricultural productivity through loss of crops, livestock and fisheries.

“Despite interventions to increase productivity by taking advantage of the El Nino rains, the rains affected crop yields and contributed to post harvest loses in 19 counties,” he said.

The counties include Narok, Migori, Homa Bay, Kisumu and Kakamega. Others are Vihiga, Bungoma, Busia and Isiolo. The rest are Meru, Embu Murang’a, Nyeri, Garissa, Tana River, Nakuru, Baringo, Elgeyo Marakwet and West Pokot.

The La Nina drought that followed has had a devastating effect on 23 counties with most pastoral counties losing livestock due to lack of pasture and water.

The situation has been further aggravated by the Fall Army Worm invasion that is currently ravaging 11 counties further undermining food security.