Government ban fishing activities in Musanze waters

Officials and residents on the banks of one of the affected rivers in Musanze District. Courtesy.

Authorities in Musanze District have suspended fishing activities on the different water bodies in the area where fish was mysteriously killed last week, as investigations continue to ascertain what killed the fish.

Last week on Friday last week, residents of Musanze District woke up to the sight of dead fish floating on different water bodies that included two rivers and three ponds.

The affected water bodies are River Mukungwa, River Mugara and three fish ponds owned by a cooperative in Muko Sector, which exclusively rears the Tilapia type.

No life has so far been reported to have been lost or any case of illness associated with consuming fish from the affected waters, according to the Ministry of Health.

“We have decided to take measures to stop fishing activities and fish supply as well as consumption because we do not know the exact health risks it can cause and when,” said Augustin Ndabereye, the vice mayor for finance and economic development in Musanze.

As much as three barrels (about 400 kilogrammes) of fish were killed just from the three ponds and were all burnt so that they are not mixed up along the supply and consumption chain, Ndabereye said.

Ndabereye said that the suspension of fishing from the said bodies has not affected fish prices in Musanze, pointing out that fishing activities on the rivers was informal and no records on production were available.

The Minister for Health, Dr Diane Gashumba, said that among other measures to contain the situation, they as early as Saturday cautioned people against eating fish that has died of unidentified causes.

“We banned people from eating the fish. We also continued awareness campaign at the grassroots level; and it is so far good because we have not yet got a person to have been affected in any way owing to the consumption of the dead fish.

Business not affected

Meanwhile, business for different types of fish from other areas which are not connected to the incidence has continued as normal, according to traders.

Some of the different types of fish being retailed in Kigali come from Lake Kivu, Lake Victoria (in Uganda), and Lake Tanganyika (Tanzania), various dealers told The New Times.

Theodosie Mukaruranga, the commercial manager at Poisson Santavenere Ltd, a Kimironko market-based firm trading in fresh fish from Kivu told The New Times that fish business has not been affected.

The firm sells about 200 kilogrammes of tilapia fish per day.

“We sell fresh fish so that people are assured of quality. No client has expresses worry about our fish,” she said.

A team of experts from various institutions including Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB), Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA), Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC), Rwanda Standards Board (RSB), Local Government, Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) and Rwanda National Police (RNP) has been sent up to investigate what contaminated the waters and how.

The root cause of the fish loss in the affected waters remains unknown.

“Investigators are still probing the issue, but they have not yet produced a report,” RIB Spokesperson, Modeste Mbabazi told The New Times, saying that the report will inform the subsequent course of action.