Traders, fishermen oppose State’s plans to manage Diani Beach park


A section of Diani Beach at Leopard Beach Resort in Kwale county. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Traders and fishermen relying on Diani Beach for their livelihoods have opposed a plan by the government to take over the operations of the park in Kwale County.

The planned park has been on paper for the last 29 years, but the government wants to implement a gazette notice from 1995 that established Diani Chale as a Marine National Reserve, a step that would have Kenya Wildlife Service manage it.

It is one of the six Marine Protected Areas in the country. Like other marine parks, any activities such as boat tours would first need permits to access the park with tourists.

While speaking at Diani Beach during a demonstration, the residents said they are scared of losing one of their main resources and sources of income, a move that will limit their operations on the award-winning beach.

The extensive area from Tiwi to Chale remains one of the most beautiful zones in the Kenyan Coast having won global awards for being the best beach.

“We have been operating on this beach for the longest time while it has won global awards. Why would the government want to take the whole control of the resource,” said Kwale County Beach Management Unit Chairperson Mtengo Makame.

“As fishermen, we are against it because even in the past years there was no public participation at the beginning. That is against the Constitution of the country because we understand that as fishermen there must always be participation,” added Mr Makame.

He added that every day, a fisherman gets the freedom to get into the ocean, depending on the tides, for fishing activities.

“That is why we want it to be ungazetted and operate as a normal beach. We are against the marine park because all the benefits that we get from this resource will now be limited once the government takes full control of it,” he said.

According to the Kenya Wildlife Service, Diani Chale Marine National Reserve begins from Tiwi to Chale.

This covers all the busiest beaches in Kwale from Tiwi Beach, Kongo Beach, Diani Beach and Galu Beach, where there is a high population of beach operators owing to the many resorts located along the coastline.

The beach operators include fishermen, curio sellers, masseurs, Masaai, camel operators, henna painters, marine safari sellers, boat operators and beach restaurants and eateries.

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