Economic and nutritional security: Enhance security for our fishermen
Despite its massive potential to rake in billions annually and enhance economic and nutritional security, the fishing sub-sector continues to run into storms.
Fishermen in Lake Victoria specifically, those around southern Nyanza, are up in arms not just over sharply declining earnings and short-changing by middlemen, but constant harassment by Ugandan authorities.
Last weekend, 30 Kenyan fishermen were detained and fined Sh180,000 in Uganda. This situation has prevailed for so long it is presumed to be a norm and an occupational hazard of sorts.
It should not get to this, given the frequency and level of engagement with Ugandan authorities, including at the highest level. According to a beach management official, the fishermen were apprehended for use of inappropriate fishing gear and ice to preserve their catch.
Its true fishermen should be educated on the imperative for sustainable resource exploitation and fidelity to other regulatory measures, including suitable fishing nets and perils of overfishing.
In recent months, two Cabinet secretaries have waded strongly into this issue with Interior’s Fred Matiang’i appearing to draw the line on protection of Kenyan fishermen.
Only last Saturday, his Devolution counterpart Eugene Wamalwa assured of “working around the clock” to end the incessant harassment by Ugandan security officers and revealed that a delegation plans to meet President Yoweri Museveni soon.
This matter including the thorny Migingo island boundary delineation deserves to be conclusively and expeditiously dealt with.
The issue of middlemen too should be tackled so that fishermen get their investment and labours’ worth. The former have dismissed the exploitation charge, blaming global price decline and influx of cheap fish imports from China.
Unfortunately both inland and marine fishing activities are confined to peasant economy, lacking comprehensive policy, security, adequate investment and infrastructural support.
Kenyan fishermen should no longer be left to their devices and to go about their ways as their grandfathers before them did. The circumstances where they are forced to dispose of their catch merely to get by must change.
There ought to be more investment in not only storage facilities and marketing but also processing so value addition is guaranteed and earnings improved.