By Rootooba Correspondent, 28 May 2020
The Fisheries and Aquaculture sector of Kenya needs to be revitalized to produce the fish required for the Kenyan Citizens and trade.
Kenya sought the assistance of the World Bank to address the concerns of coastal and marine fisheries governance and ensure that the SDG 14 targets are met in addition to enhancing compliance with other international and regional obligations.
The proposed project was given Kshs.10 billion which targets to utilize the existing potential for sustainable socio-economic development of the marine fisheries and mariculture due to its underdevelopment and minimal participation of marine communities in the deep-sea fishery.
The government has thus received a Ksh 10 billion concessional loan from world Bank to improve governance and management of the marine fisheries and aquatic resources.
Signing the County participation agreements with the five coastal counties that are the beneficiaries at Kilimo house yesterday, Agriculture, Fisheries and Cooperatives Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya said Kenya Marine Fisheries and Socio-Economic (KEMFSED) Project will promote investment in marine fisheries and coastal aquaculture (mariculture), as well as strengthen coastal livelihoods.
The KEMFSED project covers a period of 5 years and its overall goal is to enhance economic benefits and coastal livelihoods from marine fisheries and coastal aquaculture while safeguarding associated ecosystems’ integrity.
The project, he explained is based on two problem statements, namely weak governance of marine fisheries that adversely affects the sustainable generation of optimal benefits for the overall economy and coastal communities and coastal communities that are poor, have narrow income base and depend on fisheries for livelihoods, which leads to overfishing.
Munya noted that food and nutrition security are paramount for the well-being of people yet fisheries provided high and easily absorbed protein, minerals and oils, which contribute to a reduction of malnutrition among the population.
KEMFSED project, the CS noted comes at an opportune time considering that fish is the most traded food commodity in the world and its labour-intensive rearing nature, generated many jobs.
“Let us promote circular economies to maximize the returns from the fisheries as well as protect the aquatic ecosystems”, he said
Munya further mentioned that the Ministry targets to move the 13,000 fishers who are small scale and concentrated near the shores to deeper waters by building their capacity and training them to venture into the territorial sea and the Exclusive Zones fisheries.
To date, the government has already trained 100 fishers in Kilifi and 86 in Lamu Counties so that they can participate in the deep water fishing, the CS said noting that for the other 3 coastal counties, the COVID 19 pandemic interrupted the training, which would resume in due course.
The five counties along the Coastline that have been selected to be beneficiaries for the project are; Kwale, Mombasa, Kilifi, Tana River and Lamu.
Through a large number of skilled fishers, the CS stated the government aimed at placing Kenyans in industrial fishing boats and thus increasing employment for the youths in the fishing industry.
“We expect that the fishers will form stronger associations that will enable them to own semi-industrial and industrial fishing vessels to participate in the tuna and tuna-like fishery currently dominated by the foreign fishing companies”, he said.
The Project will support the fishers and institutions charged with data collection and enforcement and ensure they are provided for in alternative livelihoods with counties providing the technical backstopping on the livelihoods support projects.
It will also support fish farming through the construction of the National Mari-culture Resource Centre, which will research on better farming systems and fish species and produce marine fish seeds and train the farmers.
In addition to supporting the fish value chains, the Project will support high-value agriculture value chains such as moringa, chilli and oil crops, which will promote job creation and incomes for the displaced fishers and their dependents.
CS Munya confirmed that the project would be officially launched immediately after the COVID 19 phase and initiate its activities towards the end of June or beginning of July at the Coast in one of the Counties.
Meanwhile, fisheries and aquaculture Principal Secretary Prof. Micheni Ntiba shed light on the potential of Kenya’s marine fisheries which was 300,000 metric tonnes and which had not been exploited. Hence the support from the world bank and government was expected to transform the marine fisheries within the next 5 years.
He added that government was in the process of coming up with a marine spatial plan that will bring together multiple users of the ocean and will assist in making informed and coordinated decisions about how to use marine resources sustainably and also protect and conserve the marines.
“We are also setting aside a 30 per cent Marine Protected area for restocking and conservation of fish in the 5-year program. Currently, we have 17 deep sea fishing machinery that will also assist the youth when fishing “, Prof Ntiba said.
Under the Kenya governments Big Four Agenda, fisheries target to increase the production of fish from all sources including Marine fisheries from the current 9,000 MT to 24,000MT. The project targets to benefit poor households living in the riparian 19 sub-counties, 98 Wards of the five coastal counties.