Kenya buys Sh3.6bn ship to battle illegal fishing in Indian Ocean


A government official patrols Kenyan waters following a rise in illegal fishing. Photo/File

Kenya has acquired a new ship to patrol its Indian Ocean territory as the country steps up the campaign against illegal fishing which has seen it lose up to Sh10 billion annually.

The Sh3.6 billion ship, which has ability to detect illegal movement of fishing vessels in Kenya’s territorial waters, is expected in the country in January.

Fisheries Principal Secretary Ntiba Micheni said the sea vessel will enhance surveillance along the Kenyan coast and cut losses that result from illegal fishing by other countries.

“We now have a new sea vessel that is expected in the country in the next few months, this will play a key role in stopping illegal fishing on our waters,” said Prof Ntiba.

Speaking yesterday during the ongoing State House Summit on Agriculture, Prof Ntiba said that the new fisheries law — which took effect in July — compel foreign fishermen to declare the worth of their catch before leaving.

The value of the fish

The PS noted that the Port Measure Status agreement, which allows other people to fish in Kenyan waters, requires fishermen to come back at the port and declare what they caught.

“Anyone who fishes in our territory is now required to declare the value of the fish that he has caught for the purpose of paying some money to the country,” he said.

He noted that the new law has imposed a fine of Sh50 million on any person engaging in illegal fishing within territorial waters. Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett noted that Kenya’s fish per capita has risen from 3.7 kilogrammes per year to seven kilogrammes, attributing the trend to an increase in aquaculture in the country.

Mr Bett said that fish farming had improved production from 23,000 tonnes to 48,000 tonnes currently.

“The increase in fish consumption is mainly a result of the aquaculture that our farmers have adopted,” said Mr Bett.

Kenyan fishermen are expected to fish up to 200 nautical miles from the Kenyan shores Under Exclusive Economic Zones rules, but they operate at below five nautical miles for lack of appropriate fishing gear to explore deep seas.

“If well tapped, fishing is a great contributor to the economy of our country and we are trying our best to increase our potential by requesting for more funding from the Treasury,” said the CS.

The country has a large exclusive fishing zone with potential to produce 300,000 tonnes of fish annually valued at about Sh75 billion. However, it is yet to utilise the opportunity optimally.

[email protected]