The introduced species fishery of Lake Naivasha, Kenya: ecological impact vs socio‐economic benefits
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Lake Naivasha is a shallow, freshwater lake in the eastern Rift Valley of Kenya. Its fish community now comprises only introduced species. Oreochromis spirulus niger was stocked in 1925 as a forage fish for the largemouth bass, Micropterus salmoides, introduced in 1929 for sport fishing. Further introductions of tilapiines followed for commercial exploitation. A gillnet fishery opened in 1959, and the annual species catch composition to 2000 was dominated by Oreochromis leucostictus. Following their accidental introduction, carp Cyprinus carpio appeared in catches in 2002; by 2010, it comprised >99% of landings by weight. Carp now provides a sustainable fishery in a lake heavily impacted by anthropogenic stressors, including water abstraction and nutrient enrichment. Oreochromis niloticus was reintroduced in 2011 to reinvigorate tilapia stocks following the collapse of its stocks in the 1990s and early 2000s, and the African catfish Clarias gariepinus is now captured in small but increasing numbers. The current status of the fishery, especially the predominance of carp, presents major management challenges; these are addressed by stakeholder engagement and co-management. The introductions have artificially created a commercial fishery that provides substantial societal benefits in a semi-arid region of a developing country with high poverty levels.