Kigoma, Tanzania – In Tanzania, more than four million people depend on fishing while residents of Kigoma region count on it as a major economic activity.
However the activity in the area is currently slowing down due to the shortage of fish in Lake Tanganyika which has led to the skyrocketing of prices.
Therefore I went out to investigate what could be causing the shortage of fish in L. Tanganyika.
Some fishers and traders mention illegal fishing and climate change to be the major causes the problem that leads to the shortage of fish.
However, Edmund Kajuni a fishing officer of Ujiji Municipality says that availability of fish depends on seasons and this is not the season for fish in Lake Tanganyika.
Samuel Mbuya the weather manager from the Tanzania Meteorological Agency (TMA) Dar es Salaam appealed the fishermen and citizens of Kigoma region to continue monitoring weather forecasts so that they have an understanding on what is going on in Lake Tanganyika.
Facts about Lake Tanganyika
- Lake Tanganyika is the second largest lake in Africa next to Lake Victoria.
- The lake’s surface areaof 32,900 square kilometers (or 12,700 square miles) makes it the sixth largest lake in the world by surface area.
- Lake Tanganyika is 673 kilometers(418 miles) long, which makes it the world’s longest freshwater lake. It averages around 50 kilometers (31 miles) in width, with a maximum of 72 kilometers (45 miles).
- The deepest point in the lake is 4,820 feet, and it averages a depth of 1,870 feet. This great depth is due to it lying in the Great Rift Valley.
- Lake Tanganyika stores 4,500 cubic miles of water, covering an area of 12,700 square miles.
- The lake lies in the Great Rift Valley and is divided among four countries– Tanzania, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Burundi, and Zambia, with Tanzania (46%) and DRC (40%) possessing the majority of the lake.
- It has an average surface temperature of 25°C(77°F).
- Lake Tanganyika has a retention time(the measurement of time that water spends in a particular lake) of 440 years.
- The Lake boasts visibilities of up to 20 meters(65 feet) with massive boulders, spectacular drop offs and a shell covered bottom.
- The lower depths of the lake are fossil-waterand lack oxygen.
- The lake is also known for its ferocious storms which generate 6-meter(20-foot) waves.
- The catchment areaof the lake is 231,000 square kilometers (89,000 square miles).
- The most important rivers that flow into the lakeare the Malagarasi River, the Ruzizi River and the Kalambo River. The major outflow is the Lukuga River, which empties into the Congo River system.
- Lake Tanganyika is one of the 20 ancient lakes on Earth, and its ageis estimated to be somewhere between 9 to 12 million years old.
- Its home to an exceptional number of endemic fish. It is home to 300 fish species, 95 % of them are endemic. The chilid species dominate. There are also 68 snail speciesin the lake, out of which 45 are endemic. Additionally, there are 15 bivalve species, out of which 8 are endemic.
- Approximately one million people live around the lake. Tanganyika is a source of fish for consumption and for trade, and a vital transport and communications link between the countries bordering it.
- Lake Tanganyika and its shores boast an exceptional diversity of plants and animals. It’s estimated that the lake is home to more than 2,000 animal and plant species, out of which 600 are endemic.
- Lake Tanganyika has large populationsof hippopotamuses and crocodiles.
- The Basin contains several forest reserves and national parksincluding Rusizi Nature Reserve and Kigwena Forest Reserve in Burundi, Gombe Stream, Katavi and Mahale Mountains National Park in Tanzania, and Nsumbu National Park in Zambia.
- The nameapparently refers to “Tanganika, ‘the great lake spreading out like a plain’, or ‘plain-like lake’.