On Lake Victoria, a green stain spreads across Africa's blue heart

phys.org | 2/8/2019 | Staff
DanRules394 (Posted by) Level 3
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The dredger MV Mango Tree, tasked with removing water weeds on Lake Victoria and turning them into fertiliser, lands at the Kisumu Port docks.

With nets piled onto wooden boats, a group of fishermen joke while gazing out across Lake Victoria and the vast green weed clogging up the waterway. But their laughter has a worried edge as the sun sets.

Thick - Carpet - Water - Hyacinth - Kisumu

The thick green carpet of water hyacinth is again choking Kisumu bay, floating on the surface and blocking Kenya's main entry to the largest body of water in Africa.

Leggy egrets are delighted, high-stepping through the invasive vegetation in search of food—but the fishermen are downcast as it is unclear when the weed will clear.

Hyacinth - Maurice - Omondi - Kichinjio - Fishermen

"If we go fishing now we'll be stuck in the hyacinth," says Maurice Omondi, 40, who heads the Kichinjio Fishermen's Association on one of Kisumu's beaches.

"All we can do is wait for the wind to turn and take the hyacinth with it."

Past - Risk - Helicopter - Fishermen - Hyacinth

"In the past we tried to make it through but it's very, very hard and the risk is too great: once, we had to get a helicopter to rescue some fishermen stuck in the hyacinth," he says.

Hyacinth is an aquatic floating plant native to South America that has become a global freshwater scourge after being inadvertantly transported worldwide.

Lake - Victoria - Lake - Tributary - Kagera

It is believed to have first reached Lake Victoria in the 1990s, floating down the lake's western tributary, the Kagera.

Since then it has seriously complicated the movement of fishing boats and other vessels on Lake Victoria, hitting the local economy hard.

Market - Kisumu - Kenya

The municipal fish market in Kisumu, western Kenya.

"Sometimes we go out fishing and can't come back because the hyacinth blocks access to the beach. At other times, the hyacinth takes our nets," says Thomas Ouma, 40, a tall fisherman in a football shirt.

Lake - Victoria - Tanzania - Uganda

Lake Victoria is shared with Tanzania and Uganda,...
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