State to invest more in blue economy
The Government has announced elaborate plans to invest heavily in the development of the country’s blue economy to enable Kenya to fully exploit its immense potential in marine fisheries.
State Department of Fisheries, Aquaculture and the Blue Economy Principal Secretary (PS), Prof. Intiba Japheth Micheni, said the Government has strategies to develop its deep-sea fishing fleet by 2024 to facilitate off-shore fishing.
In a speech read on his behalf by Kenya Fisheries Services Chairman, Gonzi Rai, during the World Fisheries Day held at the Mayungu fish landing site in Malindi Sub-County Friday, Prof. Micheni said the State Department of Fisheries had already embarked on an ambitious programme of training fishermen in deep-sea fishing skills.
The measures, he said would enable the country to produce more fish for both domestic and international markets and increase the fisheries sector’s contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which he said stood at a paltry one per cent.
He noted that although Kenya’s fish potential in her Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) was between 150,000 tonnes and 300,000 tonnes annually, the country only produced 24,000 tonnes of fish annually through artisanal fisheries.
The dismal production, he said, had not been able to sustain the six fish processing plants in the country, which he said were operating at 25.7 per cent of their installed capacity thus, denying 4,000 Kenyans direct employment.
He said Kenya currently lacks the capacity to undertake off-shore fishing, noting that the marine fisheries in Kenya were mainly artisanal, targeting the near-shore species while leaving off-shore fishing to foreigners.
“Despite its important role in national economic development in terms of income generation, employment creation, food security and nutrition, Kenya’s fishery sector contributes less than one per cent of Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP),” he said.
The PS noted that the main challenges in exploiting marine fisheries resources include limited skills by Kenyan fishers to explore deep-sea fishing, poor fishing vessels and equipment, loss of essential fish habitats through destruction, overfishing, pollution, use of illegal fishing gear and global warming,” he said.
To address the challenges, Micheni said the government, under the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) had put in plans to develop its domestic deep-sea fishing fleet by 2024 and that it had embarked on an ambitious programme of training seafarers in deep-sea fishing skills.
He added that other challenges facing the sector would be addressed through the Kenya Coast Guards Services, which he said would spearhead the management of maritime activities and sea safety.
The PS said the government had embarked on an elaborate programme to repossess all the grabbed landing sites and beaches, noting that his department had already identified grabbed sites in Mombasa and Kwale counties and made appropriate recommendations for their repossession.
“Currently, the government is working on a programme to identify grabbed landing sites in Lamu, Kilifi, Tana River and other counties’ riparian to water bodies,” he said.
Saying a conducing environment was critical for robust fisheries, the PS said the government, was investing in the enactment of necessary laws, regulations, policies and strategies on fisheries development, management and marketing.
Kilifi Deputy Governor Gideon Saburi, Kenya Marine and Fisheries Institute Chairman John Safari Mumba and the Director-General of the Kenya Fisheries Services, Ms. Susan Imende, among others, were also present.