According to marine scientists, Kenya loses up to Sh45 billion every year from illegal and unregulated fishing.
Unregulated fishing has also led to a decline in fish stocks.
Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (Kemfri) Director-General Prof James Njiru said the country lies “along the upwelling region of the tuna migration path” and therefore lands the least amount of fish and the minimal economic benefits that come with it.
Prof. Njiru spoke during a two-day Agritech conference at Kisii University.
According to Kemfri, the country produces 130,000 million tons of fish from freshwater sources annually, which amounts to Sh30 billion. Lake Victoria accounts for over 95 percent of the catch.
Other statistics show that catching freshwater fish accounts for the larger proportion of around 70-80 percent. Despite fishing being a multi-billion shilling industry, Prof Njiru said Kenya has made small investments that have contributed to the losses incurred over time. Inadequate funding is also a major challenge.
“Illegal and unregulated fishing, environmental degradation, pollution, climate change, poor ocean governance and a lack of political will are responsible for the grim situation,” Prof Njiru said.
But the government’s game with the blue economy is gradually leading to a paradigm shift: in the 2019/2020 financial year, the government provided Kemfri Sh1 billion, which among other things enabled the agency to invest; the Liwatoni Fisheries Complex in Mombasa, a tuna factory, and the Bandari Maritime Academy.
During the launch of Vision 2030 in 2008, the government set targets to add value to the fisheries with targeted projects of Sh10 billion Aquaculture Business Development Scheme and Sh13 billion Kenya Marine and Fisheries Social Economic Project.
In this year’s budget statement, the State Treasury allocated Shillings 1.3 billion for the exploitation of resources under the Blue Economy, with State Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani adding that the Government is using a further Shillings 210 million to clean up fishing pads in Lake Victoria become.
Fishing culture in Lake Victoria has shifted from traditional to modern fish cage culture, resulting in about 6,000 cages that have created 6,000 jobs, Prof Njiru said.
According to Kemfri, fish cage production has increased to between 2,500 and 5,000 tonnes a year at a value of Sh800 million. However, the potential of fish cage culture is 10 tons of fish with a peak value of Sh 1.8 billion.
But the effects of climate change directly affect the green economy, as droughts and floods lead to the loss of marine life.
The recent floods, for example, have resulted in the loss of 120 lives on seacoasts across the country.