Marine fishery is estimated to have a potential of over Ksh 7.5 Billion, however, Kenya faces a number of challenges like Low investment in deep-sea fishing, Inadequate manpower and skills in the fisheries sub-sector, Inadequate Fisheries, Monitoring, Control and Surveillance.
Agriculture , Livestock , Fisheries and Cooperatives, Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya says that the lack of a substantive local investment in the deep-sea fishing means that mainly Distance Water Fishing Nations (DWFNs) exploit the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) fishery limit in accordance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea
In a speech read on his behalf by the Principal Secretary of the state department for fisheries, aquaculture and blue economy Prof. Micheni Ntiba, during validation meeting on draft marine and inland fisheries regulations in Nairobi, the CS said that Kenya has put in place an appropriate policy and legal framework that includes Revision of the National Oceans and Fisheries Policy.
“Kenya has further ratified the Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA) 2009 to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in August 2017 according to adoption and ratification of International Agreements and Protocols”, he said .
He stated that the establishment of the Coast guards is government’s commitment to ensure that illegal activities in fishing and fisheries related crimes are dealt with. “We must join hands to ensure sustainability of the resources and livelihoods of the people of Kenya”
The Government, Munya says, has further applied to extend the boundary to 350 nautical miles limit for exploitation of bottom ocean seabed resources as this will provide Kenya with an enormous maritime area with a huge potential to contribute to the socio-economic development of its citizens
The government has rolled out several initiatives to ensure sustainable exploitation of the fisheries resources and they include development and refurbishment of five landing sites namely Gazi, Kibuyuni, Kichwa Cha Kati, Vanga and Ngomeni as well as gazettement of the Liwatoni Fishing Port, and construction of two fish markets in the Coastal region.
The government has also trained local fishermen on deep sea fishing technology, value addition technology for Sea Weed farmers and is currently procuring fishing gears and boats for local fishermen who also have been capacitated to go beyond the barrier reef for fishing expeditions.
Prof. Ntiba said the sea is quite deep and wide and therefore there is need to develop the capability and investing in getting better vessels which he clarified are not so cheap.
“We also need to be able to police the waters to prevent foreigners from entering our territory and fishing even without giving us data”, he said.
The PS says that the country wants to increase productivity of fish in order to make it cheaper and affordable to all Kenyans . The strategy is selling our fish at premium prices but also buy at affordable price in our markets.
Chair County Executive Committee Member (CECM) Caucus of Agriculture Mary Nzomo said the potential of the fisheries sub-sector in the economy in regards to employment creation food and nutrition security is enormous yet untapped.
“Despite accounting for only about 0.5 percent of the GDP, fisheries sector creates employment to more than 2 million Kenyans via fishing, boat building, equipment repair, fish processing and support activities”, she said .
In 2013, Nzomo explained that the marine fishing had an annual fish potential of Ksh 90 billion but only 2.3 billion was realized and therefore this shows the latent potential of the sub sector that is waiting to be tapped..
The subsector, she noted is key in achieving the development goals laid out in the agriculture sector transformation and growth strategy , big four agenda, vision 2030 and the SDGs..
“It’s therefore worrying to note that a lot of emphasis has been put towards developing other subsectors leaving behind fisheries which is as important in transforming this country”, she said .
The CEC said the formulation of the regulations is timely in enabling the national and county governments to realize the underlying potential of the sub sector thus enabling the country to capitalize on blue economy.
“Counties have a direct role in promoting fishing as one of the local economic activities. But government at national level need to help counties in sustenance of fisheries activities as they put the necessary laws and regulations in place”, she said.
Nzomo added that all counties in this country have potential , and with water resources protected and tapped fish farming promotion can be done across s every corner in this country.
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