By Samuel Nkuba
The fishermen at Kisove landing site on Lujjabwa Island in Mazinga sub-county, Kalangala district are helpless after water hyacinth blocked the landing site, leaving over 60 boats trapped without an entry or outlet.
Water hyacinth forms dense mats that spread out across water surfaces eventually choking the entire water body. The hyacinth is thought to have traversed Lake Victoria from Bukoba in Tanzania before blocking the landing site.
Since the evening of Sunday, November 26, fishermen have steered clear of the plants amid fears that they are teeming with snakes, after two snakes that emerged from the hyacinth thought to be pythons, were killed.
Fisherman Umar Tamale narrated that besides the pythons, other dangerous snakes in the hyacinth have started taking shelter in their fishing boats that were blocked.
“We have so far killed four cobra snakes beside the two pythons, but the worst bit is that they have started attacking people who try to approach their boats,” he added.
Fishermen are also worried that there might be other dangerous aquatic creatures in the hyacinth, including blood-sucking flukes.
The affected fishermen have appealed to the district disaster and management committee to come to their rescue.
The committee head, David Omongot, however, said no resources have been allocated to handle such disasters.
David Balironda, a senior farming officer, said that way back in 2000 when water hyacinth was still common on Lake Victoria, they used to remove the plants from the lake and leave them to dry to avoid growing again.
“The government also used to avail overalls, forked spades, wheelbarrows, grooves, boots, and fisher folk in order to fight it,” added Balironda.
Water hyacinth produces thousands of seeds yearly, which can remain viable for up to 30 years. One of the fastest growing plants known; water hyacinths can double populations in two weeks.
Resty Nakawungu, the Mazinga Sub-County councillor, appealed to the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, to rescue fishermen who can no longer sail off to engage in fishing, that sustains their livelihood.
As a pest, not only does it destroy native habitats, water hyacinth also seriously depletes water bodies of oxygen, increases water loss and provides a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Rampant growth of water hyacinth can destroy native wetlands and waterways, killing native fish and other wildlife.