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Aquatic Biodiversity Conservation needed to build the Africa we want

Collaboration is key in championing regional and national efforts to mainstream the blue economy sector in order to rank among the most important in the region’s economies.

Mining, Blue Economy and Maritime Affairs Cabinet Secretary Salim Mvurya said that Kenya has therefore recognized the importance of Blue Economy to the national development and frontier for investment.

In a speech read on his behalf by Secretary in the State Department for Blue Economy & Fisheries Rodrick Kundu during a meeting on leveraging blue economy through efficient small-scale fisheries management and aquatic biodiversity conservation to build the Africa we want, the CS noted that tapping the potential in blue economy provides room for economic growth and development to enhance livelihoods of the people.

“The fisheries and aquaculture sub-sector contributes significantly to food and nutrition security, and trade and government is currently undertaking policy, legal and institutional reforms to create an enabling environment for sustainable exploitation of blue economy resources in the country,”Mr  Mvurya said .

The CS explained that apart from creating new institutions to support the fisheries sector, it is also reviewing programmes towards enhancing access to and affordable food, and also addressing the adverse effects of climate change.

Some of the new institutions are Kenya Fisheries Service which is mandated to conserve, manage and develop Kenya’s fisheries resources, Kenya Fish Marketing Authority mandated to market fish and fishery products from Kenya, Fish Levy Trust Fund, a sustainable funding system as well as Kenya Coast Guard Services to protect marine resources among others.

Mvurya  recognized the crucial role of development partners such as IFAD through the Aquaculture Business Development Programme, World Bank -Kenya Marine & Fisheries Socio-economic Development Project, FAO (Coral reef fishery), EU (ECOFISH Programme & Go Blue Project) that has assisted in sustainable conservation, management and development of fisheries and other aquatic resources to enhance livelihood of community’s dependent on fishing as well as blue economy sector to contribute to food and nutritional security, create employment opportunities, wealth creation and revenue generation.

The CS however noted that despite the potential of the blue economy sector in Kenya, it remains the least understood area in the economy and thus the least exploited and thus hoped that the regional meeting that has brought over seven countries and 200 participants will share knowledge, experience and scientific advances in order to invest in the vital sector.

IGAD Head of Mission to the republic of Kenya Dr. Fatuma Adan said the Blue Economy is part of African policies and initiatives such as the 2063 agenda of the African Union and also the 2050 Africa’s integrated Maritime Strategy.

“Africa’s blue economy can be and should be a major contributor to the continental transformation, sustainable economic progress and social development of the continent,” she said.

In Kenya specifically, Adan said the blue economy has a massive untapped potential and could be one of the largest contributors to a higher and faster GDP growth.

Madev Balloo, Project Manager, Delegation of the European Union said that in partnership with Africa, the EU has committed to encourage better ocean governance, including the development of a sustainable fisheries and blue economy.

“The EU is ready to scale up the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing to address the environmental threat it poses to the sustainability of fish stocks, the profits of fishermen and coastal communities who follow the rules,” he said.

Balloo urged stakeholders not to forget the many women and men in the sector who are living below the poverty line and are relying on natural resources for their food and economic resilience.

“They deserve your attention and it is in this context that your action must reach out to them. We should leave no one behind in the process. We look forward to your valuable experience and insights,” he noted.

The four day Blue economy knowledge and experience sharing fair has been organized by IGAD, IOC/ ECOFISH and AU-IBAR that has joined together to leverage the potential of Africa’s Blue Economy, Small scale fisheries and aquatic biodiversity.

According to Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President for the EU Green Deal, Healthy oceans are a precondition for a thriving blue economy. Pollution, overfishing and habitat destruction, coupled with the effects of the climate crisis, all threaten the rich marine biodiversity that the blue economy depends on and therefore countries must change tack and develop a sustainable blue economy where environmental protection and economic activities go hand in hand.

By Wangari Ndirangu

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