Fishing experts push for new tools to increase production


Fish mongers clean catch from Lake Victoria. FILE PHOTO | TOM OTIENO | NMG

Fishing experts are pushing for new techniques to rescue Kenya’s dwindling production to cut on Chinese imports as government finalises regulations.

Victory Farms Chief Aquaculture Officer Steve Moran says relying on the wild catch technique is no longer sustainable having dropped by between 70 to 90 percent in the last 15 years.

Kenya has an estimated annual fish deficit of up to 400,000 tonnes, with every citizen consuming between four kilos annually against a global average of 12 kilos.

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This shortage has seen the country import fish from as far as China to meet the demand despite being home to one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world.

An initiative dubbed Aquaculture Business Development Programme (ABDP) which is funded by the Ministry of Fisheries has enabled farmers to increase fish supply.

ABDP coordinator in Homa Bay Michael Omondi said the county supplies 40,000 kilos of fish from ponds annually.

He said aquaculture, including cage fishing, produces 19,945 tonnes of tilapia a year.

"If every Kenyan was to eat four kilogrammes of fish every year, we still need 40,000 tonnes of fish for the whole population of 45 million people," he said.

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ABDP is exploring how to support communities to do cage fishing while at the same time regulating it, including how it should be done and where cages should be placed.

"We are finalising regulations. We will soon roll out a suitability study for cages for communities which will come out later this month." One of the problems that have led to this challenge is overfishing where vessels catch faster than restocking.