Over 10,000 fishermen are stranded at Lake Kijjanebarola in Rakai District after a heavy carpet of green algae blocked the shoreline, disrupting fishing activities. The affected landing sites include Kacheera, Kagologolo, and Kyawandyaka, with sightings of the weed near Kijjanebarola Royal Hippo Beach and some landing sites within Rakai Town Council.
According to fishermen, the floating vegetation brought dangerous reptiles like snakes, leading many residents to evacuate the area. Mr. Tiff Mbajjo, the chairperson of fishermen, stated that the weed has paralyzed fishing activities, resulting in a decline in the quality of fish caught from the lake.
Mr. Richard Byakatonda, a fisherman, mentioned the difficulty of sailing boats on the lake due to the invasive weed. Efforts to uproot the algae have been unsuccessful, leaving fishermen to navigate through it in hopes that it will eventually dissipate.
Residents have reported changes in the water, sometimes turning reddish, making it unsuitable for cooking. With the economic impact on fishing, some locals expressed concerns about their children’s education, as they rely on fish sales for income.
Mr. Umar Ssebalinde, the Rakai District vice chairperson, acknowledged the district’s limitations in addressing the issue and called upon the government for assistance. However, Mr. John Mugumya, the Rakai District fisheries officer, stated that funds have been allocated to combat the weed.
Green algae, like other invasive species, thrives on nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, often entering the lake through pollution. This invasion mirrors challenges faced with water hyacinth in Lake Victoria, disrupting fishing and transport systems despite government efforts to control it.
Lake Kijjanebarola serves as a vital water source for communities in Lyantonde, Rakai, and Isingiro districts, with its tributaries connecting to Lake Kacheera and River Kagera, eventually pouring into Lake Victoria.
In a related matter, the Uganda Commercial Fish Farmers Association (UCFFA) urged the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry, and Fisheries (MAAIF) to address a large mass of wetland floating in Lake Victoria. The association highlighted concerns over potential threats to navigation, power generation, and fish cages due to the floating vegetation.
Other ministries notified about the issue include the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, as well as the Ministry of Water and Sanitation.