The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives is currently assessing fish stocks in the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of about 200 nautical miles as it positions Kenya to become a significant maritime state.
Cabinet Secretary (CS) Peter Munya said the resource survey will help his ministry estimate stock size and harvest rate and advice on how best they can be managed, adding, the assessment and survey will help determine the different marine species.
He disclosed that the Indian Ocean has not been fully exploited because little is known about it and that the ongoing assessment will ‘help us know the hidden treasures of the marine ecosystem and boost our economic prospects’.
“We are out to ensure sustainable exploitation of the under-utilized exclusive economic zone,” he said adding that the fisheries sector has the potential to employ millions.
Munya said his ministry is working with relevant stakeholders in the blue economy to ensure that the country’s marine species are protected and allowed to flourish. The maritime sector, he notes, has the potential of making the country self-sufficient and an exporter of seafood, and stressed the need to strike a balance on conservation efforts and exploitation of marine resources
“The national government is turning its focus on fisheries development, as it recognizes the need for sustainable use of marine resources for poverty alleviation, economic growth and for posterity,” Mr. Munya said.
The CS spoke on Tuesday in the company of the ministry’s Secretary of Administration, Kassim Farah, among other senior ministry officials. They were on a tour of fishing villages of Shimoni, Gazi and Kibuyuni in Kwale County where he held meetings with Beach Management Units (BMUs) and seaweed farmers. With him also, was Gonzi Rai, the chairperson of the Kenya Fisheries Service.
Seaweed farming has been identified as a good prospect for social and economic development of coastal areas of Kwale and Kilifi counties. It is aimed at diversifying livelihood opportunities for poor fishing communities whose livelihoods have been put at serious risk by diminished fisheries capture.
Munya said the ministry will help capacity build beach management units to enhance resource management in the fishery sector.
The CS also toured the construction works of the Shimoni fishing port and the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute Shimoni laboratories.
Munya said the ministry is in the process of recovering and developing all grabbed public fish landing sites and other maritime assets along the Indian Ocean.
By Hussein Abdullahi