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Kwale fishermen receive modern fishing boats

Fishing communities in the Shimoni area of Kwale have reasons to smile as they received eight modern fishing boats from the national government in a bid to boost artisanal fisheries.

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua handed over the modern fully fitted fishing boats to fisher folk of Shimoni, Mkwiro and Kibuyuni Beach Management Units (BMUs) at the Shimoni fishing village along the Indian Ocean.

The handover ceremony was also attended by Cabinet Secretaries Mining, Blue Economy and Maritime Affairs Salim Mvurya and his Education counterpart Ezekiel Machogu and Kwale Governor Fatma Achani among other leaders.

The boats are a donation by the Italian Agency for Development Co-operation through the ‘Go Blue’ Program; a partnership between the Kenya government and the European Union (EU) aimed at fostering the Blue Economy sector through coastal development projects.

The overall objective of the EU Go Blue programme is supporting inclusive and sustainable development in coastal cities and ports in the Horn of Africa region.

The blue economy sector covers a wide range of economic activities within coastal communities such as fisheries, aquaculture, maritime transport and tourism.

CS Mvurya says the Go Blue initiative spearheaded by the EU in collaboration with the Jumuiya Ya Kaunti Za Pwani is expected to improve income, enhance standard of living in the artisanal fishing communities.

He says the initiative also seeks to make fishing attractive and seamless to youths who in the past were not ready to adopt fishing as a profession thus replacing the aging fishermen population.

Mvurya says the partnership between the EU and the Jumuiya Ya Kaunti Za Pwani will upscale the local fish production, create jobs, empower the fisher folks of Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi and Lamu as well as promote the availability of fresh fish at affordable prices.

“As a national government we promised to support our artisanal fisher folks as part of the bottom-up clarion call and the commissioning of the eight artisanal fishing boats at Shimoni fits into the bottom-up economic model championed by the Kenya Kwanza administration,” he said.

He said his ministry will work with all the stakeholders in the maritime sector to uplift the lives of fishing communities and generate revenues for the government.

Mvurya says the government wants its fishermen to venture into the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) by equipping them with deep sea vessels to fish beyond its territorial waters.

“The move is to prevent over exploitation of shallow water marine life and harness the abundant untapped resources in the country’s exclusive economic zone,” he said.

The Maritime CS says fishing vessels currently used by coastal fishermen are not suitable to fish in the exclusive economic zone waters.

Governor Achani says the fishing boats equipped with storage facilities for better handling of fish catches will also enable the fishermen to undertake deep sea fishing.

She also stated that the County government of Kwale will continue capacity building the local fisher folk by providing storage facilities that will facilitate fish value addition and also promote productivity.

“We remain committed to empowering the local fisher folk by providing storage facilities that will promote fish value addition and productivity,” she said.

In addition, Achani said the BMUs will receive from the devolved government ice production machines and a cold room, as well as an upgrade to the fish market and other fishing infrastructure.

“The BMUs will soon receive fiber boats, ice boxes for boats, fishing gear, and ice production machines from the county government,” she said.

Achani said other plans are afoot to improve the industry such as provision of cold room facilities and equipment for processing sardines to reduce post-harvest losses which have been experienced by many fishing communities in the region.

By Hussein Abdullahi

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