TED Case Studies: Lake Victoria

CASE NUMBER:     388

I. Identification

1. The Issue

The recent history of Lake Victoria is one of dramatic change in limnological parameters and native fishery stocks from late 1960s to the present. Over fishing, exotic species introductions, deleterious land use practices, and pollution from various sources all contributed to the oxygen depletion and mass extinction of indigenous fishes now taking place. The question is an urgent one for scientists, policymakers, and development organizations worldwide. The current export boom from the lakežs shallow (less than 80 meters at its deepest), murky, and oxygen-depleted waters has come at enormous ecological and social cost. The price includes a massive loss of native species, partially caused by the introduced perch, and the increasing conversion of the fishery to an export commodity rather than local protein source. Hence, Lake Victoria is in danger of becoming the world's largest pool of dead water. Already half its native fish are extinct, and the 30 million people who eke out a living from its troubled waters are facing calamity. 2. Description In 1858, the British explorer John Speke stumbled onto its southern shore and proclaimed he had discovered the fabled source of the Nile. In 1875 another British adventurer, Henry Stanley, circumnavigated Lake Victoria to confirm Speke's claim and spent two weeks spinning tales of God and England to curry favor with Mtesa, king of Buganda and ruler of the northern lake region. Then Stanley sent word back to England, calling for missionaries. They came with soldiers and traders. Within 20 years England had taken charge of what became Uganda and Kenya (Germany got Tanzania), and by 1902 the colonial government had pushed through a railroad from Mombasa to the lake. Europeans soon denuded vast tracts of forest in Lake Victoria's watershed to plant tea, coffee, sugar, tobacco, and cotton. The human population exploded, and people increasingly turned to the lake not for subsistence but to satisfy a market for fish--especially the tasty tilapia called ngege--in the growing urban centers. Fishing pressure on the lake began to intensify in 1905 when the British introduced flax gill nets, which soon replaced the local villagers' papyrus nets and fish traps. With overfishing, catch sizes began to drop; fishermen turned to nets with ever smaller mesh sizes and thus decimated both the breeding adults and young of many native species. By the 1950s the ngege was commercially extinct and the labeo was not far behind. To compensate, British officials decided to stock the lake with new fish. The first nonnative species of tilapia (Cichlidae), that prospered was the Nile tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus, which feeds on the minute forms of plant and animal life called plankton, introduced in the early 1950s. In 1955 the Nile Pearch Lates nicloticus (Centropomidae) was introduced into Lake Kioga, and when a few years later it was found in Lake Victoria, steps were taken to ensure its establishment there. Despite such changes, the haplochromines appeared to be thriving in the 1950s. In fact, they appeared so robust that some colonial administrators favored introducing a big predator like the Nile perch to eat what they considered bony little "trash" fish and "convert the haplochromine biomass" into something more able for the restaurant table. Ecologists, fearing the worst for local species, strongly opposed the predator. But in 1954 illicit Nile perch began appearing in commercial catches anyway. Since the dirty deed was done, officials actively stocked the lake with perch in the early 1960s. (Ogari suspects perch were first slipped into the lake by colonial sportsmen, just as homesick British anglers put trout into highland streams throughout eastern and southern Africa.) Still, for the next decade or so, the alien perch population remained small. A United Nations-sponsored survey completed in 1971 found that haplochromines still made up the traditional 80 percent of the lake's fish biomass. Then came what Pereti Basasibwaki, a Fisheries Research Institute biologist, calls the dark period, the years between 1974 and 1979 when Amin cut off access to the lake. Until 1978, Nile Perch remained a very small proportion of the commercial catch, less than 5 percent. It wasn't until 1979 that the Kenyan government took over the idle Kisumu facility and work resumed under ICMFRI's auspices. Pilot surveys suggested the lake's fish biomass was unchanged: it still appeared to consist of 80 percent haplochromines and less than 2 percent Nile perch. But in 1980 an abrupt change showed up in Kenyan waters, and within two years it appeared in Ugandan and Tanzanian waters too. Nile perch suddenly jumped to 80 percent of the biomass, and haplochromines dropped to 1 percent. Ngege, already rare, virtually disappeared. Clearly something had been building during the unmonitored 1970s to cause such a massive explosion of perch. As for the haplochromines, the leading theory is that they simply provided the predator's fodder. However, when Nile Perch were introduced into Lake Victoria some 30 years ago to improve game fishing, few would even have guessed that it might cause the elimination of whole species and the degradation of the area surrounding the lake. Then in 1978 a very rapid expansion of the proportion accounted for by Nile Perch took place, with the result that by 1990 the commercial catch had a totally different composition, dominated by Nile Perch (almost 60 percent) and Omena (most of the remaining 40 percent). The haplochromines, and the mixture of other fish had virtually vanished from the commercial catch. In the early 1980s, however, few government officials in Africa viewed the shift in Lake Victoria's fish fauna as a disaster. The bottom waters of the lake appeared to be a dead zone, devoid of oxygen and fish life. On the other hand, the lake was chockfull of algae--five to ten times more than in the early 1960s. That suggested massive eutrophication, an oxygen-depleted condition caused by high levels of nutrients that encourage the rapid growth of plankton, especially plant plankton such as algae. The decay of plankton in turn depletes water of oxygen. Water quality in Lake Victoria has declined greatly in the past few decades, owing chiefly to eutrophication arising from increased inflow of nutrients into the lake. Nutrient inputs have increased two to three-fold since the turn of the century, mostly since 1950. Concentrations of phosphorus have risen markedly in the deeper lake waters, and nitrogen around the edges. Stimulated by these and other nutrients, the five-fold increase in algal growth since 1960, and the shift in its composition towards domination by blue-green algae, is causing deoxygenation of the water, increased sickness for humans and animals drawing water from the lake, clogging of water intake filters, and increased chemical treatment costs for urban centers. Aside from the near-total loss of the deepwater species, the deoxygenation of the lakežs bottom waters now poses a constant threat, even to finish in shallower portions of the lake, as periodic upwelling of hypoxic water causes massive fish kills. The increased nutrient loads have also spurred the water hyacinth infestations. In addition, massive blooms of algae have developed, and come increasingly to be dominated by the potentially toxic blue-green variety. The distance at which a white disc is visible from the surface, (a transparency index measuring alga abundance), has declined from 5 meters in the early 1930s to one meter or less for most of the year in the early 1990s. Water-born diseases have increased in frequency. Water hyacinth, absent as late as 1989, has begun to choke important waterways and landings, especially Uganda. Over fishing and oxygen depletion at lower depth of the lake threaten the artisanal fisheries and biodiversity (over 200 indigenous species are said to be facing possible extinction.) Scientists advance two main hypothesis for these extensive changes. First, the introduction of Nile perch as an exotic species some 30 years ago has altered the food web structure; second, nutrient inputs from adjoining catchments are causing euthrophication. Thus, although the lake and its fishery show the evidence of the dramatic changes in the lake basin over the past century, the lake is not the source of the problem, but the problem went largely unrecognized amid the wrenching social upheavals of East Africa. The problem have arisen in the surrounding basins through human activity. Some areas of the rivers feeding the lake and the shoreline are particularly polluted by municipal and industrial discharges. Some information has been collected by local and national authorities on the scale and location of polluting industries, and there are a number of basic industries that are common to most of the major urban areas, for example, breweries, tanning, fish processing, agroprocessing (sugar and coffee) and abattoirs. Some of these have implemented pollution management measures but in general the level of industrial pollution control is low. Small scale gold mining is increasing, in Tanzania in particular, and this is leading to some contamination of the local waterways by mercury which is used to amalgamate and recover the gold. Some traces of other heavy metals, such as chromium and lead, are also found in the lake, although the problem has not yet reached major proportions. Finally, the lake basin is used as a source of food, energy, drinking and irrigation water, shelter, transport, and as a repository for human, agricultural and industrial waste. With the populations of the riparian communities growing at rates among the highest in the world, the multiple activities in the lake basin have increasingly come into conflict. This has contributed to rendering the lake environmentally unstable. The lake ecosystem has undergone substantial, and to some observers alarming changes, which have accelerated over the last three decades. 3. Related Cases ZAMBIA Case ZAMCOPP Case BALLAST Case TILAPIA Case NILECROC Case IVORYWD Case PERCH Case RHINO Case RHINOBLK Case USCHINA Case Keyword Clusters (1): Trade Product = Fish [FISH] (2): Bio-geography = SPLS (3): Environmental Problem = Habitat loss [HBITAT] 4. Draft Author: Marcela Rabi Fall 1996 B. LEGAL Cluster 5. Discourse and Status: AGReement and COMplete Attempts a fisheries collaboration among Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda are among the oldest on the continent. As early as 1928, it was recommended that a unified lake-wide authority for regulation and for collection of fisheries statistics be set up. Establishment of the East African Freshwater Fisheries Research Organization (EAFFRO) in 1947 solidified collaboration, and it was boosted further with formation of the East African Community in 1967. In the early 1970s, all three countries became members of the FAO Committee for Inland Fisheries of Africa (CIFA). After the disappearance of this coordinating mechanism with the end of the East African Community in 1977, the need for collaboration was felt so strongly that special CIFA Sub-Committee for Lake Victoria was set up in 1980. Although this was a useful forum for the three countries, the difficulty of implementing management measures on a lake-wide basis due to the design of proposal for the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization (LVFO). 6. Forum and Scope: LVFO and REGIONal The Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization (LVFO) is a Tripartite Agreement of 1994 that involves Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. In addition, the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) is developing a project that, for the first time, ensure that regional fisheries management would operate within a regional framework for environmental action, rather than having only a commercial orientation. LVFO would support the GEF project. 7. Decision Breadth: 3 (Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda) Each of the three riparian Governments has prepared a National Environmental Action Plan (NEAP). All three NEAPS acknowledge that Lake Victoria demands urgent attention through regional cooperation. The NEAPžs focus on problems such as water pollution, biodiversity loss, land degradation, and damage to wetlands, all central concerns for the lake and its catchments. Scientists and resource management framework may threaten the future viability of the lake basin. Discussion to broaden regional environmental cooperation covering the Lake Victoria Basin started in late 1992. In May 1994 the three Governments decided to enter into agreement jointly to prepare and implement a Lake Victoria Environmental Management Program. A tripartite agreement to this effect was signed August 5, 1994. The essential soundness of this agreement has been proven during project preparation, and its main institutional arrangement has been proven during project preparation, and its main institutional arrangements, which have worked well, will continue into project implementation. 8. Legal Standing: TREATY In 1988, the World Conservation Union Red Book of Endangered Species listed the hundreds of endemic fishes of Lake Victoria under a single heading: "Endangered." The most exuberant expression of vertebrate adaptive radiation in the world, the haplochromine species, is now in the midst of the first mass extinction of vertebrates that scientists have ever had the opportunity to observe, an event as exciting as it is depressing. III. GEOGRAPHIC Cluster 9. Geographic locations a. Geographic Ddomain : AFR = Africa b. Geographic Site : EAFR = Eastern Africa a. Geographic Impact : UGANDA Lake Victoria, with a surface area of 68,800 km2 and an adjoining catchment of 184,000 km2, is the worldžs second largest body of fresh water, and the largest in the developing world, second only to Lake Superior in size. Lake Victoria touches the Equator in its northern reaches, and is relatively shallow, reaching a maximum depth of about 80 m, and an average depth of about 40 m. The lakežs shoreline is long (about 3,500 km) and convoluted, enclosing innumerable small, shallow bays and inlets, many of which include swamps and wetlands which differ a great deal from one another and from the lake itself. Because the lake is shallow, its volume is substantially less than that of other Eastern African lakes with much smaller surface area. Lake Victoria holds about 2,760 km3 of water, only 15 percent of the volume of Lake Tanganyika, even though the latter has less than half the surface area. Some 85 percent of the water entering the lake does so from precipitation directly on the lake surface, the remainder coming from rivers which drain the surrounding catchment. The most significant of these rivers, the Kagera, contributes roughly 7 percent of the total inflow, or one half of that over and above direct precipitation. The Kagera River, which rises in the highlands of Burundi and Rwanda, forms the border between Rwanda and Tanzania before turning to the east, and flows for at least 150 km completely in Tanzania territory. It discharges into the lake just north of the border between Tanzania and Uganda. Some 85 percent of water leaving the lake does so through direct evaporation from its surface, and the remaining 15 percent largely by way of the Victoria Nile, which leaves the lake near Jinja in Uganda, and flows via the Owen Falls, and the Murchison Falls to join the outflow from Lake Albert; these outflows are the main sources of the žWhite Nilež. The lakežs origins are still the subject of scientific dispute, but it seems likely that it is much more recent than the other great lakes of eastern Africa. Many of the rivers now flowing east into Victoria (including Kagera) once flowed west, at least in the Miocene, Pliocene, and part of the Pleistocene eras (within the past 2 million years), possibly eventually into the Nile system, and more recent upthrust of the western side of the basin is thought to have reversed these rivers, and caused Lake Victoria to form by flowing eastwards. It is possible that the lake could have formed as recently as 25,000 to 35,000 years ago, and recent evidence suggests it may have dried up completely between 10,000 and 14,000 years ago. 10. Sub-National Factors: Yes Millons of liters of untreated swege and industrial waste flow into the Lake Victoria every day from Kisumu, Kenyažs third largest city, and from Mwanza in Tanzania. Watershed degradation and agricultural runoff contribute chemicals, nutrients, and sediment. And from Rwanda came the grisly addition of some 40,000 human corpuses-war causalities that floated down the Kagera River in May 1994. Nor is the perch the lakežs only alien species problem. 11. Type of Habitat [LAKE] IV. TRADE Cluster 12. Type of Measure: QUOTA 13. Direct vs. Indirect Impacts: INDIRECT 14. Relation of Measure to Environmental Impact a.Direct Related : Yes Fish b.Indirectly Related : Yes Many c.Not Related : No d.Process Related : No 15. Trade Product Identification: Fish The revenues generated by the Nile perch fishery are much greater than those ever realized from the lake's native species, but the relationship between changes in the lake's fauna and changes in revenues generated by the fishery is not a simple one. Landings data, suggest that the usable productivity of the lake increased by at least half an order of magnitude over 15 years. The distribution of wealth resulting from the Nile perch fishery is also different from that of the original, artisanal fishery. Some local fisherman may actually be worse off despite the apparent plenty. Large-scale operations that exploit the introduced species for foreign currency are doing well. The small- scale fisherman and fishmongers, who never went hungry and who relied for their livelihoods on the traditional tastes and interesting diversity of the native species, are a vanishing breed. The specter of protein malnutrition in the lake basin has been raised by socioeconomists, an incredible irony in a place exporting nearly 200,000 tons of fish protein annually. In Uganda, for instance, the fishing industry employs 25,000 people and fish accounts for around 60 per cent of animal protein consumption. On the other hand, both illegal fishing and the invasion of Uganda's lakes by water hyacinth are threatening fish stocks in Uganda's lakes, and especially in Lake Victoria. Fishermen are using nets which trap mature as well as young fish in large areas of Lake Victoria. Water hyacinth is affecting air concentration in breeding water, leading to premature deaths. New fish processing plants are opening on Lake Victoria and more are licensed but not yet under construction, putting further pressure on fish stocks in the lake. 16. Economic Data Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda control 6, 49, and 45 percent of the lake surface, respectively. The gross economic product of the lake catchment is in the order of US$3-4 billion annually, and supports an estimated population of 25 million people at incomes in the range of US$90-270 per capita p.a. The lake catchment thus provides for the livelihood of about on third of the combined populations of the three countries, and about the same proportion of the combined gross domestic product. With the exception of Kampla, the capital of Uganda, the lake catchment economy is principally an agricultural one, with a number of cash crops including exports of fish) and high level of subsistence fishing and agriculture. In Kenya and Uganda the areas of coffee and tea in the catchment are a significant part of those nations major agricultural imports. The quality of the physical environment is therefore a fundamental factor in maintaining and increasing the living standards of the growing population. Although it is not possible to put a single estimate to the global value of the lake in sustaining the regional economy, it can be seen that if deterioration of the lake resulted in a (say) 5 percent reduction in productivity of the region, the consequent loss would be of the order of US$150 million annually. 17. Impact of Measure on Trade Competitiveness: Low 18. Industry Sector: [FOOD] Until recently, the native fish of Lake Victoria were harvested by small-scale fishers and processed and traded by women for local consumption. This kept the nutritional and economic benefits in the lakeside communities. Today, the perch are caught by large commercial operations for export market. Local women a literally left with the scarps-which they must purchase. Deprived of work and unable to afford this higher priced (and less palatable) catch, local people face a serious nutritional predicament. The perch take over has decimated the primary economic and nutritional resource of 30 million people. 19. Exporter and Importer: Kenya, Uganda, & Tanzania and Many Many powerful people in the fishery business, for example, consider the Nile perch a savior, not an ecological disaster, since the lake is producing record numbers of perch that are bringing in sorely needed export dollars. On the open lake, where local fishermen cannot pole their canoes, large boats are hauling out Nile perch by the uncounted and unregulated ton. The fish are then sold to dozens of processing plants built along the Kenyan and Ugandan shores by investors from Asia, Europe, and Australia. Within hours the thick white fillets have been cut from the fish, flash frozen, boxed, and loaded on trucks headed for the port of Mombasa, Kenya, where they are shipped to the tables of Europe and the Middle East. E. ENVIRONMENTAL Cluster 1. Environmental Problem Type: Habitat Loss [HABIT] Over-fishing, exotic species introductions, deleterious land- use practices, and pollution from various sources all contributed to the oxygen depletion and mass extinction of indigenous fishes now taking place. Therefore, the entire lake has been placed in jeopardy by profound changes in the structure and dynamics of the ecosystem. 21. Name, Type, and Diversity of Spices To understand Lake Victoria, one must see both the lake and its fauna in the context of its giant East African neighbors, Lake Malawi and Lake Tanganyika. The faunas of all three lakes exhibit the products of rapid speciation from very few ancestors. Best known is the fish family Cichlidae, of which more than 90% of the species in each lake are endemic (Greenwood 1984). Catfish, mormyrids (elephant-nosed electric fishes), carps, gastropod and bivalve mollusks, insects, and crustaceans also have produced clusters of endemic species, but, with the possible exception of the Lake Tanganyika gastropods, these radiations are much less diverse and morphologically varied than those of the cichlids. Closely related but less species-rich cichlid flocks also occur in the nearby, smaller lakes Edward, George, Kivu, Kyoga, and Nabugabo (Greenwood 1974, 1981). The cichlid faunas in the three great lakes in East Africa are strikingly similar and often cited as examples of evolutionary parallelism (Eccles and Trewavas 1989, Fryer and Iles 1972, Witte 1984). Three apparent lineages are present in the lakes: haplochromines, tilapiines, and lamprologines. The haplochromines are a species-rich and geographically widespread lineage. The tilapiines are species poor but also widespread. The lamprologines are species rich, but in the great lakes occur only in Lake Tanganyika. As a group, the cichlids stand in contrast to the Nile perch and Omena, both of which invest heavily in fecundity and little in parental care. The life history profile of cichlids in general entails small broods and extended parental care. Most East African haplochromine and tilapiine cichlids brood relatively few (5 to 100) large eggs and develop their young in the mouth, but the substratum-spawning lamp-rologines and tilapiines place large clutches(hundreds to thousands) of small eggs in nests on the lake bottom. All defend their young until they are self-sufficient. They have limited dispersal (except for seasonal inshore movements to spawn or release young) and strong site attachment-- characteristics that should in theory make them highly vulnerable to extinction (Jablonski 1986, Gaston and Lawton 1990). Curiously, this view is sharply at odds with certain other of the cichlids' attributes. They are aggressive, behaviorally and physiologically adaptable, phenotypically plastic, and prone to extraordinary evolutionary diversification (Avise 1990, Fryer and Iles 1972, Liem 1974). Much of this versatility has been attributed to a fundamental reorganization of the pharyngeal jaws that cichlids share with several closely allied fish families (Kaufman and Liem 1992). Many cichlids can individually alter tooth and skull morphology in response to a change in diet (Greenwood 1965, Kaufman 1989, Meyer 1990, Sackley 1991, Witte et al. 1990). One cichlid, the Victorian snail-crusher Astatoreochromis Alluaudi, was introduced to West Africa to help control the snail vectors for bilharzia, but these cichlids fed on insects instead of snails and stopped producing the massive dentition and musculature necessary to crush snail shells (Sloot-weg 1987).(1) Cichlids have escaped from tropical fish hatcheries into the canals and evercase of south Florida, where they reproduce more successfully than do native sunfishes (Centrarchidae; Courtenay and Robins 1973, Hogg 1976, Taylor et al. 1984). Introduced all over the world as a ready source of home-grown protein for developing nations, tilapiine cichlids may have affected hundreds of native fish communities. In short, cichlids have adapted to an incredibly wide range of conditions. One might expect such adaptability and ecological versatility to offer some measure of protection against extinction. That it has not done so in Lake Victoria may be one indication of the magnitude of change that has taken place. A fishery that once drew on hundreds of species, mostly endemic, now rests on three: a native pelagic minnow called the Omena (Rastrineobola argentea) or Dagaa in Tanzania; the introduced Nile perch (Lates niloticus), known as Mbuta; and the introduced Nile tilapia, Orechromis niloticus. Although there are many features of Lake Victoria which are of intense interest to biologists, it is fish that received the most attention. Most of the fish species now in the lake also lived in the preceding, west-flowing rivers, but the cichlids, in particular, had a remarkable burst of speciation in response to the change from river to lake conditions. Similar things happened in other great lakes, but in Lake Victoria it happened much more recently, more rapidly, and with at first sight, less opportunities for ecological isolation in different types of habitat. The cichlids are capable of rapid genetic change, and more prone to speciation than other groups of Africa fish. There are more than 200 endemic species and 4 endemic genera of cichlids in Lake Victoria, more than 150 species of which are of the genus Haplochromis. Another major lineage is the tilapiines. From the primitive insect-eating types, mouths and pharynxes have evolved to allow feeding on plants, mollusks, fish, and even the eggs and young larvae carried in mouth of brooding females of most cichlid species. The non-cichlid fishes have also changed, and there are at least 50 species, of which 29 are endemic, and one endemic genus. The non-cichlids show much less divergence from the riverine stock than is the case with non-cichlid fish in Lake Tanganyika, which has had a much longer time for them to diversify. While most of the species remain year round in the lake, there are a number of 13 species) of anadromous (ascending) fish, especially cyprinids, characids and siluroids, which swim up the rivers when they are in flood, breed in a suitable place, and return with their young fish to the lake as the level drops. 22. Impact and Effect: HIGH and [STRCT] The most important freshwater food fishes in East Africa have already vanished from the marketplaces and very nearly from the planet. Scientists, fishermen, and environmentalists have decried the loss of Lake Victoria's native species, and others have praised the introduction of Nile perch. Now the Nile perch threatens to destroy itself, the lake ecosystem, and a major source of protein in the midst of the world's fastest-growing human population. In Lake Victoria, as elsewhere, human welfare is intimately linked to concern for species conservation and ecosystem integrity. 23. Urgency and Life Time: High The recent history of the fishes of Lake Victoria, East Africa, exemplifies a pace and magnitude of change that is alarming. In 1988, the World Conservation Union Red Book of Endangered Species listed the hundreds of endemic fishes of Lake Victoria under a single heading: "Endangered." The most exuberant expression of vertebrate adaptive radiation in the world is now in the midst of the first mass extinction of vertebrates that scientists have ever had the opportunity to observe, an event as exciting as it is depressing. Thus the most important freshwater food fishes in East Africa have already vanished from the marketplaces and very nearly from the planet. 24. Substitutes: Yes Already researchers like Kaufman, Ochumba, and Basasibwaki are working on projects to help both people and native fish, regardless of what happens to the lake itself. Breeding stocks of 40 haplochromine species--selected to represent most of the different feeding strategies that evolved in the lake--as well as the native ngege are safe in exile at 30 aquariums in the United States and Europe under a World Conservation Union program led by Kaufman. Both Kenya and Uganda are expanding their fish-farming efforts, collecting founder stocks of haplochromines and other native fishes and considering plans to introduce them into smaller lakes and ponds in the region. If the decline of Lake Victoria itself can be halted, isolated bays and inlets may one day be cordoned off with nets as "fish parks" or as farms for valuable commercial species. In addition, a major cooperative effort among all three lakeside countries -Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania-was recently launched -the Lake Victoria Environmental Management Program- which will focus on water quality, land use management, restoration of indigenous food fish, control of Nile perch and water hyacinth, and community-based enforcement. Successful methods developed in pilot zones around the lake during previous years will then be applied to larger areas. VI. OTHER Factors 25. Culture: Yes The business boom is taking a toil on humans as well as fish. Traditional ways of life along the shore are crumbling. As Ochumba drives from Kusa Bay back to Kisumu, he stops on Kisumu's outskirts to talk with women frying perch scraps over charcoal fires. These women from nearby fishing communities once bought native tilapia, labeo, and haplochromines to dry in the sun and sell. As these species dwindled, the women migrated to squatter camps near the perch-processing plants, where they buy the carcasses after filleting. The fleshy heads and tails are fried and sold from roadside pole stands; they are the only fish most local people can afford. In fact, if the lake continues to deteriorate and the overfished perch population crashes, it's not clear what anyone who depends on Victoria will eat. At first, official concern focused on problems the perch created on shore. Fishermen needed bigger gear to deal with a fish that could grow to a hefty six feet. Villagers didn't know how to fillet or cook the big oily thing and couldn't dry it in the sun. There were no markets for the monster, prices were low, and most perch were left on the beach to rot. With UN funds, a Kenya Marine Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI) team toured lakeside villages and Nairobi hotels, demonstrating how to fillet, freeze, smoke, and cook the fish. Foreign-aid groups and investors moved in with processing plants and refrigerated trucks. With the benefit of hindsight, it's tempting to say the effort was too successful. Today few people who live by the lake can match the price hotels and foreign customers are willing to pay for perch--so much so that the specter of protein malnutrition is being raised in a region exporting 200,000 tons of fish a year. No part of the perch goes to waste. A poster at KMFRI offices shows shoes, belts, and purses made by a Mombasa company from tanned perch hide. In Nairobi's newspapers front-page ads offer up to six dollars a pound for dried perch swim bladders, which are sent to England for filtering beer and wine and to the Orient for making soup stock. 26. Trans-Border: Yes More than 30 million people who depend on the lake are feeling the consequences of roller-coaster changes in the fauna and lake environment. For the fishermen of Kusa Bay, the women selling perch scraps in Kisumu, and all the rest of the 30 million people whose fate is tied to the lake, there is no place to turn. Even in Africa, where epic sagas of famine and upheaval are all too common, the death of Lake Victoria would bring unparalleled suffering. But baring doesn't begin to describe the situation that would result if Lake Victoria no longer provided food or employment for the people who live around it. 27. Rights: No 28. Relevant Literature 1. Barel, C.D.N., R. Dorit, P. H. Greenwood, G. Fryer, N. Hughes, P. B. N. Jackson, H. Kanawabe, R. H. Low-McConnell, F. Witte, and K. Yamaoka. 1985. Destruction of fisheries in Africa's lakes. Nature 315: 19-20. 2. BioScience, April, 1989, Vol. 39 ; No. 4 ; Pg. 230; ISSN: 0006-3568, 7184 words, Bootstrapping in ecosystems., Perry, D.A. ; Amaranthus, M.P. ; J.G. ; Borchers, S.L. ; Brainerd, R.E., IAC 07477083 3. 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