The Aquatic Resources and
Blue Economy Conference (ARBEC), will be held in Kisumu, 
Kenya, in November 2022 

Important conference dates

15th August, 2022 - Abstract submission

28th Nov - 1st Dec 2022 - Conference date

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Kenya Aquatica

KCSAP Project


KMF/RS/2018/ C1.8.i.


2nd May 2019

Socio-Ecological assessment of status of Cage Culture Development in Lake Victoria

KMFRI Kisumu Centre:

P.O. Box 1881-40100, Kisumu

Tel: +245 (770567443)

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Mombasa Centre & Headquarters:

P.O. Box 81651-80100, Mombasa

Tel: +254 (041475151/4)

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This brief has been generated from the latest scientific data to offer guidance towards development of a Decision Support Tool (DST) and Best Management Practices (BMPs) in the mushrooming cage culture in the Lake Victoria, Kenya region. Information contained herein should provide guidance geared towards sustainable exploitation of the Lake while reaping economic benefits for the riparian communities dependent on the resource.

Executive summary

   The brief is geared towards development of a decision support tool (DST) and best management practices (BMPs) of cage culture in Lake Victoria, Kenya.

  •     The information is geared towards improvement of policies to sustainably undertake fish cage aquaculture with negligible impacts on the water environment of the Lake and promote use of those practices through adaptive research.
  •    Lake Victoria, Kenya currently has 3696 cages across the five riparian counties with an estimated production capacity of 3,000 tones/year.
  •    Suitability mapping indicate that out of 4,100 km2 lakescape available, the maximum suitable area for cages is 362 km2 or approximately 9 percent of the Kenyan portion of Lake Victoria. The suitability paves way for a single cycle carrying capacity ≈ 4085.5 tones.
  •   The majority of the lakescape, 3,737 km2 or 91 percent of the lake, is either unsuitable or highly-unsuitable for tilapia cage culture.
  •   The sub-sector’s value chain, its supportive value chains and associated enterprises are rapidly expanding thus creating jobs, enhancing incomes and ensuring food security in rural and urban areas.
  • This report provides information that includes the trade-offs between capture fisheries, other socio-economic uses of water bodies, the aquatic environmental health and cage aquaculture.
  •   It also provides guidelines for planning and operation of cage aquaculture farms in Kenya, examining policy, regulatory, and human resources requirements. 
  • The report recommends improvements, guide monitoring and management of the environment of cage aquaculture farms; Increase awareness; and provides the know-how on how to work with fish farmers to test the BMPs and DST.
  •  Furthermore, there is need for stakeholders to be involved in validating and approving potential sites, the adoption of suitable and unsuitable zones, and to entrench the lakescape delineation into regulations and management frameworks.


  • Cage technology is fast growing in Lake Victoria with significant contribution to national fish production.
  • Through cage culture, the aquaculture sub-sector anticipates increased job opportunities, enhanced food security and incomes for both rural and urban dwellers.
  • However, as the Blue Economy is exploited through cage culture, there is need to sustainably manage the resource through sound stakeholder consultative policies.
  • The brief is meant to guide in the development of BMPs as tools to improve aquaculture practices and management of cage aquaculture for increased fish production with minimal impacts on lake uses and environment in L. Victoria, Kenya.

Approach and results

  • The brief highlights cage culture issues on the Kenyan waters of Lake Victoria.
  • Standard procedures and protocols are applied herein based on the water quality parameters of the Lake, Socio economics, and Socio-infrastructure characteristics.
  • Cage culture potentiality and mapping involved geo-referencing of cages abundance and distribution as well as suitability using Arc GIS 10.0.
  • Findings:

1. Preliminaries:

·         Cages are on the increase; more people investing.

·         Cage culture is mainly a male dominated activity. However, women roles are significant along the value chain.

·         Most cage investors are middle aged (36-45%), and literate.

·         Most of the cages had a dimension of 2.0 m x 2.0 m x 2.0 m (n = 1031; 62%) with a total number of 2,000 fingerlings stocked per cage giving a total number of 2,062,120 fingerlings stocked at current capacity.

·         Dissolved oxygen, temperature, total phosphorous, total nitrogen and pH had no significant difference between cage culture sites.

·         Cage Culture in L. Victoria has created over 500 jobs directly and indirectly created income opportunities for over 4,000 people in rural and urban settings.

2. Cage culture suitability and density map in Lake Victoria:

  •   Using bathymetric data, suitability mapping sites for cages was undertaken for Lake Victoria and the recent cage assessment exercise has shown the current location of cages in Lake Victoria, Kenya.
  •  The most suitable sites for fish cage culture consist of 191.30 km2 or 4.67% of the lakescape. Suitability sites have an area extent of about 171.10 km2 or 4.17%. Thus, the entire lakescape potential area extent for cage culture suitability is about 362.40 km2 or 8.84% of the lake with a single cycle carrying capacity ≈ 4085.5 tones  (Suitability map below).
  •  The area unsuitable for cage culture is 3,737.50 km2 or 91.16% of the lake, consisting of 2,753.00 km2 or 67.15% of least suitable sites and 984.5 km2; or 24.01% of wholly unsuitable sites.
  • Fairly inaccessible areas for cage culture farming due to constraints of water hyacinth, demarcated fish breeding grounds and moving islands cover a surface area of about 459 km2.
  • About 54% of the current cage culture establishments occur in either constrained areas such as fish breeding grounds and water hyacinth hotspots or in areas designated as least suitable or unsuitable.
  •  The majority of such cage culture establishments are around Anyanga, Sika, Uwayi, Asat, Dunga, Chuowe, Homalime, Nyandiwa, Rasira, Sori, and Tangache beaches.
  •  Need to conceptualize the value of technology and its supportive enterprises for faster transformation from subsistence to commercialization. This will greatly contribute towards a more vibrant value chain leading to increased jobs, poverty alleviation and food security.

3. Trend of cage aquaculture growth in the five riparian counties of Lake Victoria:


4. Cage culture income at emerging and commercial levels:






Cage Size

2x2x2 (8m3)



No of Cages




No of fish stocked per Cage




Survival Rate




Total weight at Harvest (Kg)




Cost of Cage (Kshs)




Cost of production (Kshs)




Value of fish per harvest (Kshs)




Gross Margin (Kshs)




Annual Income/HH (Kshs)




Monthly Income/HH (Kshs)




Daily Income/HH (Kshs)





  • Current fish production from cages in Lake Victoria, Kenya estimated at 3,180 tones per year valued at Kshs 955.4 Million (9.6 million USD).
  • Cage culture in L. Victoria has created over 500 jobs directly and indirectly created income opportunities for over 4,000 people in rural and urban settings.
  • Poor record keeping in most of the cage establishments.
  • Lack of quality inputs is a major challenge in cage culture.
  • Biosecurity application in cage culture establishments is wanting; need for policies/better enforcement to protect the Lake ecosystem.
  • Need to incorporate a decommissioning plan in the business plan at the time of application for operational license.


  • Cage fish farming has been on rise since it was first introduced in 2006.
  • Currently, there over 3,696 cages of various sizes in the Kenyan portion of the lake whose impact on the ecosystem is not yet established.
  • The venture is weakly regulated and faces a number of challenges.
  • Stakeholders involvement in policies, guidelines and regulations is key as well as in validating and approving potential sites, the adoption of suitable and unsuitable zones, and to entrench the lakescape delineation into regulations and management frameworks.

Implication and recommendations; Towards development of a DST and BMPs

  • Regional governments’ ministries should offer cage culture investment and management guidance given aspects such as navigation routes, capture fisheries to avoid conflicts with fishers, marine parks, breeding grounds and other critical habitats for fish.
  • Regional governments ministries to urgently address issues related to shared resource use, an introduction of exotic culture species in the Lake, high quality feeds for caged fish, marine parks, among other aspects. This will require a trans-boundary and cross-border policy in light of devolution and the neighbouring countries to ensure sustainable utilization of the Lake as a resource.
  •  High volume with high density fish stocking is required alongside recommended carrying capacity to minimize future occurence and emergence of diseases and fish kills.
  •  Need to sustainably manage the resource through sound stakeholder consultative policies.
  • Increasing investment in fish cage farming demands that BMPs are developed and implemented in juxtaposition with monitoring of the water quality since unchecked cage culture practices will most likely impact the lake environment in future.
  • There is need to ensure proper cage sitting, as the nature of the bay (i.e. sheltered or open), and proximity to land-use activities will influence the water quality and critical fish habitats.
  • There is a need to fast track and enforce compliance to regulations of cage culture establishments alongside relocation of the cages to deeper waters and control of the feeding rates.
  •  National and Cross border fish health monitoring programmes should be developed to encompass preventive, regulatory and disease control measures. Coordination with international and national aquatic animal health organizations is also vital should there be outbreak of serious fish disease.
  • National and County governments ministries to offer cage culture investment and management guidance in view of aspects such as navigation, capture fisheries, marine parks, markets and tax on importation for sustainable resource utilization.
  • National and County governments ministries to reinforce data generation on fishery statistics, market surveys, fish quality assurance and control of import and export of fish and fishery products.
  • National and County governments ministries to fully implement The Fisheries Management and Development Act 2016.