Agency sets sights on small fishing boats survey

Lamu fishermen.

Photo credit: File | Kevin Odit | Nation Media Group

The government has lined up a survey to ascertain the number of small fishing boats as part of measures to tighten sector regulation.

The Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA), the agency that regulates the industry, is seeking bids for the census. “KMA seeks to address the issues relating to the small vessel cluster through comprehensive small vessel data collection and analysis and an economic survey of the small vessel cluster,” said the agency in a tender notice.

It says that despite the critical importance of the small vessels, there is no complete data to inform policy, law, strategic, and operations decision-making.

Such data includes vessel numbers, sizes, and types, their movements, cargo volumes, passenger numbers, fisheries operations, coastal tourism statistics, and economic indicators within the maritime sector.

“This lack of data poses challenges for policymakers, industry stakeholders, and researchers in formulating evidence-based strategies for enhancing maritime infrastructure, promoting trade efficiency, and fostering sustainable development,” says KMA.

The agency says the survey will help it better regulate the sector amid environmental concerns that only 10 percent of the country’s small vessels comply with the regulatory requirements to protect the marine environment.

Unsafe fishing

“As such, small vessels are wont to pollute the waters within which they operate by throwing garbage overboard, discarding fishing nets, and engine oil and fuel spills,” it said.

The KMA further said the exercise will help to weed out unsafe fishing vessels from Kenya’s waters.

Most of Kenya’s international seaborne trade is carried by foreign ships that call at Kenyan ports.

On the other hand, most socio-economic activities within the territorial sea and inland waters such as lakes Victoria, Naivasha, Turkana, Nakuru, and Baringo and undertaken using small vessels owned and operated by local fishermen.

The agency estimates that there are about 20,000 small fishing vessels in the country, but the KMA estimates only slightly more than 10 percent of the small vessels are registered and licensed.

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