Why Coast’s fishing industry goes untapped

Fisherman Khamis Kubo prepares his catch in the old fish market in the old town of Mombasa. [Omondi Onyango, Standard]

Despite the enormous potential, the coastal fishing industry has not yet reached its full potential. Research by the Kenya Marine Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI) on fish stocks in designated coastal locations shows that 4,050 tons can be harvested, around 7.5 billion Sh.

During World Fisheries Day in Kilifi last week, Lawrence Omuhaka, chief administrative secretary for the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock, said current tonnages of fish landed from the marine waters are still low. “There are obvious reasons for this. They range from the use of outdated fishing methods to adverse weather conditions, ”emphasized Omuhaka.

Decrease in consumption

Kenya’s fisheries and aquaculture sectors contribute around 0.54 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Previous reports suggest that fish consumption has decreased from a modest 6.0 kg / capita in 2000 to 4.5 kg / capita in 2011.

The value of fish exports in 2012 was around USD 62.9 million, about five times as high as the USD 12.3 million of fish imports. In 2013, around 129,300 people made their living by fishing and fish farming (48,300 of them in inland waters, 13,100 in coastal fishing and around 67,900 in fish farming).

To turn the tide, the government is looking for ways to promote aquaculture and use cured fish products in food aid programs to improve national food security. One problem in the marine sector is the control of foreign flag vessels fishing for tuna in the Exclusive Economic Zone, where illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is known to take place.

Kenya has been a party to the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea since March 1989 and to the 1995 UN Convention on Fish Stocks since July 2004. In November 2010, Kenya signed the Convention on Port State Measures. Kenya is also a member of the Committee on Inland Fisheries of Africa (CIFA), a founding member of the Aquaculture Network for Africa, the FAO Indian Ocean Tuna Commission, and the FAO South West Indian Ocean Commission for Fisheries.

Why is marine fishing key?

It is worth noting that marine fish production comes mainly from small-scale fishing, which provides employment opportunities and wealth creation along the value chain, and contributes to food and nutrition security.

Marine fishing is also important for the preservation of culture and national heritage, including related industries such as tourism and recreational purposes. According to Community Action for Nature Conservation (Canco), a civil society group, fisheries support actors large and small.

“Kenya has a large number of people involved in the small-scale fisheries value chain and supply chain services including, but not limited to, resource harvesting and production, processing, trading, marketing and boat building,” said Canco’s project manager, Marine and Fisheries Resource Program Richard Bemaronda said.

In order to exploit the enormous potential in the marine sector, the World Bank, in partnership with the Kenya Marine Fisheries Socio-economic Project (KEMFSED), has a project in the five coastal districts of Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi, Tana River and Lamu for five years (2020-2025).

The project, which is part of the State Department for Fisheries, Aquaculture and the Blue Economy, aims to improve the management of the priority fisheries and mariculture and to improve access to complementary activities for livelihood on the coast.

The project is aimed at poor households, including fishermen, dependent households, rural communities with direct or indirect links to fishing. “KEMSFED aims to build a sustainable marine fisheries sector and help diversify the incomes of rural coastal communities,” said Bemaronda.

He said another important initiative is the Go-Blue project, launched this year by governors of the six coastal districts led by Jumuiya Ya Kaunti za Pwani and the Blue Economy Secretariat. “The four-year project aims to protect Kenya’s ecosystem while creating environmentally friendly jobs and opening up economic opportunities for women and youth in a variety of industries, including small-scale fishing, recycling and tourism,” said Bemaronda.

As part of Go Blue, German Cooperation has started to implement a project that aims to improve the competitiveness of micro, small and medium-sized companies such as suppliers, service providers and actors in blue value chains and to impart skills to young jobseekers.

In order to develop the enormous potential of Kenya’s maritime resources through research, Kemfri has its largest research center in Mombasa near Mkomani nearby.

The center conducts research in the field of oceanography and hydrography, including physical, chemical, biological and geological oceanography of coastal, coastal and coastal waters. The center seeks to establish cost-effective methods for the sustainable use of aquatic resources (and the environment) through participatory approaches with stakeholders, including local communities.

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