Kenya shelves plan to ban use of synthetic fishing materials


Mining and Blue Economy Ministry Cabinet Secretary, Salim Mvurya. FILE PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG

Kenya has shelved a plan to ban the use of synthetic fishing materials, known as drifting fish aggregating devices, which attract hundreds of marine species, including tuna and non-tuna species in the Indian Ocean.

The government said the withdrawal of the ban will allow further discussion with European Union countries and other few distant water fishing nations pushing for more time to use the unrecyclable materials.

Mining and Blue Economy Ministry Cabinet Secretary Salim Mvurya said Kenya supports Indian Ocean Tuna Commission recommendations to ban the use of unrecycled materials in Oceans but there is a need for further consultation on how to ban it without affecting fishers.

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Mr Mvurya said there are four proposals for discussion on the conservation of tuna and tuna-like resources in the Indian Ocean among them the reduction of synthetic marine debris and the use of natural or biodegradable materials.

“In the spirit of harmony and to make it easier to reach a consensus on dFADs management, I hereby direct that the position submitted by Kenya on the issue dFADs management be withdrawn for the time being to allow for further consultations with other IOTC member countries, Scientific research communities, stakeholders and local affected communities to achieve broad consensus on the sustainable management of these shared resources,” said Mr Mvurya.

Some of the issues discussed in the meeting include proposals towards the rebuilding of the overfished yellowfin and bigeye tuna stocks in the Indian Ocean.

The committee noted that the Indian Ocean was experiencing overfishing as a result of juvenile harvesting by the use of illegal fishing equipment.

In a bid to reduce synthetic fishing materials such as dFADS, the committee recommended the reduction of the number of dFADs from the current limit of 300 down to 150 as a precautionary approach which needs to be executed urgently.

“If the overharvesting of the juvenile fish is prevented, the fish will grow to bigger sizes hence improving the stocks of tuna in the Indian Ocean and also increasing the fish availability.

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“Kenya will also benefit as Liwatoni Fisheries Complex will also have a source of raw materials for operations creating jobs and opportunities for value addition from the tuna resources,” said the technical committee in the joint communique.

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