A new Kenya Coast Guard Station has been set up in Mbita, Homa-Bay County to enhance blue economy in Lake Victoria.
The Director General of Kenya Coast Guard Service Loonena Naisho said the station is expected to improve security in Lake Victoria through enhanced patrols and safety operations.
The station will serve Homa Bay, Siaya and Migori counties in the Lake Victoria.
The Director General joined Homa Bay County Commissioner Moses Lilan and the County Police Commander Esther Seroney during the official launch of the station.
Three new boats were also unveiled during the occasion. The boats included MV Mageta, MV Migingo and MV Mkaguzi, that will be used for patrol by the security officers in the lake.
The MV Mageta was taken to Mageta Island in Siaya, while the remaining two boats are stationed in Mbita to take care of Homa Bay and Migori counties.
Naisho said the station was strategic in tackling criminal activities in the lake.
“The establishment of this station will enable our officers to beef up patrols to eradicate illegal activities in Lake Victoria,” Naisho said.
He said they will focus on enforcing compliance on use of recommended fishing nets in order to protect Lake Victoria ecosystem.
He noted that the use of illegal fishing nets causes destruction of young fish in Lake Victoria.
The Director General said there was need to use the lake sustainably for the benefit of the future generations.
“Illegal fishing methods destroy fingerlings, thereby depleting fish populations in the lake. We must fight illegal fishing methods because that is the only way the future generations can benefit from this lake,” he added.
On his part, the county commissioner said the station will enhance blue economy in Lake Victoria by creating conducive environment for fishermen and transport operators in the lake.
Lilan said the enhanced security will enable residents to utilize the lake for economic prosperity.
“The government is focusing on blue economy. Proper utilization of this lake will help us to achieve the agenda,” he said.
He said the station will enable the officers to protect fishermen from harassment by security officers from Uganda and Tanzania. But the administrator warned fishermen against flouting laws of the two countries.
“Let our fishermen be conversant with the laws of our neighbouring countries so that they don’t flout them whenever they stray into their waters. Don’t take advantage of the Coast Guard Officers to flout the laws of the neighbouring countries,” Lilan said.
Chairman of Homa Bay County Beach Management Network Edward Oremo appealed to the government to consider opening more stations in future.
“We have realized improvement in security in the lake during the short time the Coast Guard officers have been here. Opening two others and increasing the number of boats in the lake will enable us operate very efficiently,” said Oremo.
He also appealed to the security agency to open a search and rescue center to help locals during accidents in Lake Victoria.
By Davis Langat