The fuel shortage in Lamu has slammed the brakes on deep-sea fishing activities, threatening fish supply in the area and the livelihood of locals who depend on the trade.
The most affected fishermen are those dealing with tuna, which is only found in the deep seas.
Many fishing vessels in key fishing hubs across the Lamu archipelago, such as Kiwayu, Kizingitini, Kiunga, Shela, Mkokoni, Matondoni, Kipungani, Tenewi, Bomani and Lamu Island, are grounded due to the fuel shortage.
“Since the fuel shortage began, many of the fishermen here can’t (work), meaning even the tuna catch has already dwindled,” said Lamu County Fisheries Officer Simon Komu.
Lamu County Beach Management Unit (BMU) Network chairperson Mohamed Somo said even those who access fuel are paying a higher price for it, wiping out the profits they make.
Tuna fishing boats consume at least 60 litres of petrol on every fishing expedition, which ideally would cost the operators Sh8,100. They are, however, having to pay more than Sh12,000 to access the same from resellers.
“We used to buy a litre of petrol for Sh140. Now, we’re getting the same petrol at Sh200 or Sh250. Most of us have quit the venture until the fuel crisis is resolved,” said Lamu Town Fishermen and Dealers Association chairperson Abubakar Twalib.
Lamu has more than 7,000 fishermen across the archipelago, with at least half now being rendered idle by the fuel crisis.
In Kenya, fishing is largely carried out at subsistence level, with the country yet to develop mechanised fishing industry that earns well developed maritime nations billions of shillings.