Habitat degradation and subsequent fishery collapse in Lakes Naivasha and Baringo, Kenya
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Lakes Naivasha and Baringo in the eastern Rift Valley of Kenya are shallow, freshwater lakes that are subject to major fluctuations in water level and suffer from habitat degradation as a consequence of riparian activity. Lake Naivasha is approximately 160 km2, is bordered by Cyperus papyrus and its aquatic macrophytes are in a state of flux. The most significant riparian activity is the large scale production of flowers for the European market. Lake Baringo is approximately 140 km2 and lies in a semi-arid region. Its most noticeable feature is its extreme turbidity which is mainly due to excessive soil erosion resulting from deforestation and overgrazing. This turbidity has led to near extinction of submerged macrophytes and a lake bed virtually devoid of benthic fauna. Fishing pressure has added to the environmental stresses being endured by the fish populations and commercial catches have been detrimentally affected. Accordingly, periods of fishery closure are now imposed upon both lakes. Limited remedial action is feasible and some local stakeholders are attempting to introduce mitigation measures. For Lake Naivasha there is an agreed riparian owners' management plan which tackles issues such as water usage and protection of the C. papyrus margin. For Lake Baringo there is a Rehabilitation of Arid Environments initiative which promotes such activities as restoration of riparian vegetation and appropriate stock management.