Man sues State over arrests linked to traditional fishing in coast


Fishermen going on with their business near Nyali Bridge in Mombasa in this photo taken on 19th October 2021. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NMG

A fisherman has sued the government challenging the arrest of his colleagues engaged in traditional or artisanal fishing along the country’s coastline.

Mahamoud Abdalla Ali wants an injunction issued against Kenya Fisheries Service and officers including the Police and Kenya Coast Guards from arresting fishermen engaged in traditional fishing activities or seizing their fishing gear.

In his petition at the High Court in Mombasa, Mr Ali says that artisanal fishing for subsistence is and has traditionally been an integral part of the way of life for inhabitants of coastal counties.

Mr Ali has also sued Kenya Fisheries Advisory Council, Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives and the Attorney General.

He says that the Kenya Fisheries Service together with the coast guard and the police have been carrying out massive arrests of locals involved in fishing activities within Lamu county and seizure of their equipment for allegedly violating the Fisheries Management and Development Act.

According to the suit papers, “the method of the implementation of the Act” is destroying the meager livelihoods of traditional fishing communities in the coastal counties thus harming the economy and living standards of the communities.

“The Act was enacted into law without direct active or passive public participation, civic education and capacity building of the coast fishing community and the provisions of the Act are onerous and deleterious to their liberty, property, livelihood and living standards,” says Mr Ali.

The petitioner says that the use of monofilament nets and beach seine nets for fishing is a traditional and long-standing artisanal fishing practice by Lamu inhabitants.

Mr Ali says that the High Court in Nairobi through a petition filed in 2012 ruled that fishing is the mainstay of communities at the coast, and that it was traditional for the community to engage in fishing and that the locals were to be provided with modern fishing gear by the fisheries department.

“The National Government through the State Department for Fisheries, the Kenya Fisheries Service and the County Governments have not provided fishermen engaged in artisanal fishing with modern fishing gear,” part of the suit documents state.

Justice John Mativo has directed that the case be mentioned on January 25 for directions on the hearing of the petition.

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