The Seafarers Union of Kenya Chairman, Daudi Hajji is advocating for the training of local youth as seafarers to work in fishing fleets, as the government turns its focus on exploitation of the blue economy for growth.
The Blue economy sector encompasses fisheries, maritime biotechnology, aquaculture, tourism, maritime transport and the associated logistics.
Hajji said as the government turns its focus in harnessing the blue economy, more and foreign owned deep-sea fishing fleets are encroaching into the country’s territorial waters looking for tonnes of fish stocks.
He said the maritime sector has the potential to employ hundreds of local youth as seafarers, but majority of them lack the requisite skills and expertise to grab opportunities in the vast blue economy sector.
The veteran seafarer said the maritime industry that has remained untapped for decades has enormous potential to reduce youth unemployment.
“We need skilled local seafarers to work on board foreign seagoing vessels, when they sail into our exclusive economic zones of 200 nautical miles in search of fish,” he said.
He went on to say, “deep sea fishing is a tough job in a complex industry and that is why we want young Kenyans properly trained to enable them work on foreign fishing trawlers.”
Hajji said there is need to send local youth for enhanced training in Begai Tanzania Fishing Training Institute in the interim while the newly unveiled Bandari Maritime College in Mombasa is developing its training curriculum,
He was speaking at the Liwatoni Fisheries Complex in Mombasa on Sunday, when he received six fishing vessels with Chinese national flags chartered by a local investor.
Hajji regretted that all the crews of fishing vessels with refrigerated tanks with the capacity to carry 150 tonnes of fish were Chinese, Filipinos and Indonesians.
He said China, Philippines and Indonesia have trained thousands of their youth as seafarers and were now reaping the benefits.
The Seafarers Chairman said commercial fishing boats have the potential to provide employment to hundreds of jobless youth and urged more investors to come on board and charter international fishing trawlers.
Industry stakeholders estimate that the blue economy if properly implemented and harnessed has the potential to create over 52,000 jobs in the next ten years, besides having the capacity to inject Sh.470 billion into the economy.
By Hussein Abdullahi