Beware! Lake Nakuru fish is poisonous, declares CS Salim Mvurya

Lkae Fish

Blackie: Fish from Lake Nakuru has been found to rot fast even when refrigirated. 

Photo credit: File I Nation Media Group

The government has officially declared fish in Lake Nakuru unfit for human consumption.

Mining and Blue Economy Cabinet Secretary Salim Mvurya says fishes in the lake contain high levels of arsenic metal that are “highly toxic and dangerous to humans”.

Some species such as magadi tilapia, Mr Mvurya said in Embu, were initially introduced into the lake as a control measure for mosquitoes while others found their way into the lake from rivers and drainage systems.

"I want to confirm that fish in Lake Nakuru is not fit for human consumption. We have fishes which have been demonstrated to contain up to 32 per cent level of the poisonous metal," he said.

The CS said the government was discouraging Kenyans from consuming fish from the Lake so that they could be safe.

"We have been looking at Lake Nakuru, and more particularly the kind of fish species (in there). We are also concerned about the issue of fish consumption because arsenic is harmful to humans," he said.

Don't eat fish from Lake Nakuru, warns CS Salim Mvurya

Arsenic is a naturally occurring element that can be found in soil, water, and air.

While it has some industrial uses, exposure to high levels of arsenic can be harmful to human health— including disruption of the normal functioning of cells and tissues, increased risk of mutations and the development of cancers, and respiratory issues such as chronic bronchitis and lung cancer.

Mr Mvurya said a multi-agency team, comprising officers from Fisheries, Blue Economy and Environment departments, had been formed to look into the matter and give the way forward.

He promised to give a comprehensive report about the Lake after touring Nakuru area to assess the situation.

In January 2021, the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI) warned that Lake Nakuru fish was not fit for human consumption.

This was after the institute conducted research following complaints of faster-than-usual rotting of the fish, even when put under refrigeration.

“We have industrial waste flowing into the lake, I will be cautious to consume fish from Lake Nakuru,” said researcher George Morara in the KMFRI report, noting that the lake is unregulated.

The KMFRI study also found that fishes in the lake contained higher concentrations of nitrates than the level suitable for their growth and reproduction.

Fishermen operating in Lake Nakuru have been complaining that the fish they catch turns black and decays fast despite refrigeration.

In 2020, they presented the complaints to the Nakuru County Government after nicknaming the caught fish "Blackie".

Mr Mvurya said the government was taking the issue seriously and asked Kenyans to be patient.

Accompanied by Embu Governor Cecily Mbarire, the CS said the government values the lives of Kenyans and would like to ensure that they consume healthy foods.