Fishermen based at Lake Victoria region have called for the mainstreaming of fisheries and aquaculture in the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development to help revive the sector.
Led by the Beach Management Units (BMU) National Chairman Gabriel Oguda, the fishermen said leaving out the sector from the mainstream ministerial portfolios was likely to reverse the gains made in resuscitating the sector which contributes one percent to the National Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Addressing the media at Dunga Beach in Kisumu, Oguda said the sector which directly and indirectly employs over 1.2 million people required a stand-alone state department within the Agriculture Ministry to adequately address the existing challenges.
While naming his Cabinet, President William Ruto dropped fisheries and irrigation from the ministry, a move Oguda claimed was set to relegate the sector to the periphery.
“We would be glad to have a distinct ministry with a stand-alone principal secretary (PS) in the fisheries department to address the issues affecting the sector,” he said.
“We want someone who will be key in helping us to deal with fisheries right from the production and along the supply value chain,’’ he added.
Blue economy, he said, should not be misconstrued to mean fisheries and aquaculture since in other countries it is domiciled in the Ministry of Transport.
Oguda who was flanked by fishermen and other BMU officials from Kisumu, Busia, Siaya, Homa Bay and Migori further asked the national government to allocate adequate resources to the state department to help boost fish production in the country.
“The moment the State Department of Fisheries misses out in the line ministry it shall be considered as a sub-sector and lose out on budgetary allocation,” he said.
On the incessant arrests of Kenyan fishermen in Lake Victoria, Oguda asked the government to develop legislation that will see fishermen from the three East African countries sharing the lake fish resources without harassment.
Homa Bay BMU Chairman Edward Oremo said 8 out of 40 Kenyan fishermen who were recently arrested for alleged territorial trespass in Uganda were yet to be released.
“With the President committed to ensuring a borderless East African Community, the launching pad should be Lake Victoria shared by Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania,” he said.
“We want to see his shuttle diplomacy and bilateral relationship translate into the creation of more wealth, jobs for our people and businesses to grow,’’ he added.
By Chris Mahandara