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Disaster strikes fish farming in Kenya

Fishermen working in Lake Victoria   -  
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In Kenya, a natural phenomenon occurring in Lake Victoria has affected fish farming.

Upwelling, a natural phenomenon that involves temperature changes and oxygen depletion, has caused huge losses.

"So, the effect of the farming in here is enormous, my estimate for all of the Ogal beach fish farmers, we are talking of one point eight billion or two billion Kenya shillings if you consider the kind of investments which the farmers have done in here. It is a huge loss to the economy", claims Noah Otieno, fish farmer and cage owner.

Kisumu County, in the southwest, has been hardest hit leaving many struggling to make a living.

Local fishmonger, Jacklyn Okello, added "we have met with a big problem and it has come with huge losses. It is now four years since we started this business but the incident of today has never been experienced and has never been seen happening here. These cages have been of great help to us women folks and our husbands as well and have helped our children too. We have widows here, we have widowers here with children and this was the only employment they had and would use their earnings for keeping up the family but now we have nowhere to go".

According to experts, climate change could be a contributing factor to this phenomenon.

"It comes a time where the bottom water comes on top to replacing the warm water -- and remember this bottom water in some cases is the one having low oxygen . So, it displaces the top water and moves or covers some distance. 

"Now, when it covers that distance if it happens that it comes near a cage, the home of that fish will now be in anoxic water, water that is not having any oxygen in it, and that will lead to the fish starting to suffocate and then they eventually die", said Christopher Mulanda Aura, Director of Fresh Water system research at KEMFRI.

One estimate points to a loss of over 16 million dollars for Kenya's fish farming industry.

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