The Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) has partnered with the Nakuru County government in efforts to tame illegal fishing in Lake Naivasha.
The vice has over the years threatened to cripple the otherwise lucrative commercial fishing industry.
The agency will help with registration of boats and establish an operation base in the area to ensure only genuine players operate in Lake Naivasha.
"Illegal fishing in Lake Naivasha has been a headache. The move will ensure compliance with regulations to curb poaching and other illegal activities, " said Governor Lee Kinyanjui.
Mr Kinyanjui on Thursday revealed the county will allocate KMA a piece of land in Naivasha to build an office and operation base.
"The base will help in not only enhancing security to curb poaching and illegal fishing but also responding to emergencies such as cases of boats capsizing and people drowning. We have had incidents such as the Lake Nakuru helicopter crash and cases of drowning at Lake Naivasha. The base will help handle such emergencies," added the county boss.
In October 2017, for instance, a helicopter crashed into Lake Nakuru, killing all five occupants.
Search and rescue efforts were back then greatly hampered by poor equipment and lack of skilled divers. The rescue mission was halted for several hours pending the arrival of divers from Mombasa.
The partnership deal was reached on Wednesday, when a team led by the KMA board chairman and Director-General Robert Mutegi Njue paid Governor Kinyanjui a courtesy call.
“We’ll continue to enhance maritime security and safety in Lake Naivasha and other areas. We have entered into a collaboration to help curb illegal fishing and poaching," said Mr Njue.
Nakuru County has been grappling with illegal fishing in Lake Naivasha, with a thriving syndicate threatening to deplete stocks and ruin livelihoods for more than 10,000 families that depend on the industry.
The syndicate has increased their fishing gear from the legally allowed limit of 10 fishing nets to about 100, making a killing from the illegal trade.
“Illegal fishing has become very rampant in Lake Naivasha. The number of unlicensed fishermen close to the shoreline, and, unfortunately, in the breeding grounds, has increased. The illegal fishermen are taking advantage of the ongoing war against the coronavirus to regroup and advance their illegal activities,” said Mr David Omondi, a fisherman.
Licensed fishermen have previously raised the alarm over the fish poachers who venture into the lake at night, depleting stocks despite sustained efforts by the county government and fishing industry players to boost fish numbers in the lake.
The Nation learnt that the unlicensed fishermen use small nets, flouting fishing regulations.
“This has worsened due to unemployment, especially after the majority of employees at flower firms in the region were sent packing as a result of the coronavirus pandemic," another fisherman, Mr Joseph Okeyo, told the Nation.