Coast counties of Kwale, Kilifi and Mombasa have allocated a total of Sh628 million to the fishing sector.
Fishing is among the blue economy sectors both the national and the county governments are keen at addressing.
In their 2019/2020 estimates, Kwale has allocated a total of Sh30 million towards fisheries development, Kilifi allocating Sh112 million with Mombasa allocating Sh486 million towards agriculture, fisheries, livestock and co-operatives, which represent 3.6 per cent of the county budget.
In Kilifi, the Sh73 million will go towards fisheries development while Sh26 million will be allocated for fisheries projects to be undertaken in the respective wards in the county while Sh12 million will go towards administration costs.
In Mombasa, however, the allocation has been reduced by Sh12 million. In the last financial year, the Governor Joho-led administration allocated Sh499 million towards the sector. In the 2019/2020 estimates, the devolved government has allocated Sh486 million.
The counties are currently implementing various initiatives meant to address the sector. A report titled ‘A gem by the Indian Ocean’, Kilifi county government has engaged in constructing several fish depots in all major fish landing sites.
Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi said that the county occupies 60 per cent of the Kenyan coastline.
“It is therefore no coincidence that the county government committed to making fishing one of its major income generating activity,” said Governor Kingi.
The report further says that before the devolved government came into existence, Kilifi only had three operational MBUs, out of the 72 BMUs.
“The county government embarked on major rehabilitation programme while also constructing new sites to enhance handling and marketing of fish products in a hygienic and safe environment. Among them Mtwapa Fish depot, Mayungu, Marereni, Uyombo and Watamu,” said the report.
The report further says that the county government also distributed 30, 16ft freezers to 17 BMUs in the entire county.
Mombasa county has made good strides towards addressing the emerging issues in the fishing sector.
The Mombasa county government has already procured 28 boats to be given to fishermen according to the county agriculture, livestock and fisheries executive Hassan Mwamtoa.
“We want to see our fishermen getting empowered. Most of them have been doing fishing but with little income. We need to capacity build them by giving them gears they will use to uplift their living standards,” he said.
“Previously, they were not getting enough fish yet the demand was high yet the supply has been dwindling,” he added.
He said that the county is out to ensure that fishermen will no longer remain poor and also be able to increase their incomes.
Initial they used dug-out canoe that did not bring any value to them. They could not get the kind of fish that fetched a good market price.
But with these boats, they will be able to produce enough catch to spur the growth of the sector.
The boats to be given to the fishermen have the capacity to carry a fish load of between 500 and 700 kgs.
“These boats will therefore help them increase their income and improve on their livelihoods.
This programme is one of the recommended blue economy activities that Mr Joho has emphasised.
The county is also in the process of setting up big two fish markets in both sides in Likoni and Bamburi. The facilities will be equipped with cold storage facilities so that it minimises the post-harvest losses.
“This is a good programme for the fishermen in Mombasa county for they will be able to complete with foreign fishermen.
“We have identified various landing sites and one of them is where one of the markets will be built and on that structure of the market is where all the fishermen will form a cooperative to have a bargaining power in as far as their products are concerned,” he added.
According to the Wavuvi Association of Kenya (WAK) the coast region has registered 20,000 fishermen, with 50,000 households directly depending on the sector.
Mombasa deputy governor William Kingi has already said that through the Blue Economy Secretariat, he has initiated plans to repossess all the grabbed landing sites in the county.
“Of the 25, none of them has been repossessed so far but the Blue Economy Secretariat has started the process of auditing them to ascertain their status and then repossess them,” said Dr Kingi.
In the list, Likoni sub-county tops with many fishing landing sites, most of them whom have either been grabbed or encroached, hindering fishermen from accessing the ocean.
Fourteen landing sites that are the most preferred in the county and have been gazetted are Bamburi Pirates, Kidongo, Nyali, Mkomani, Mishomoroni, Old Port market, Tudor, Mtongwe,Likoni, Timbwani, Jomvu Kuu, Mikindani Kwa Unda, Kitanga Juu and Mkupe.
“These 14 are the official gazetted fish landing sites at the moment but we have another 25 fish landing sites which that need to be recovered.
“The National Government in collaboration with both the county and the National Land Commission (NLC) together with the state department of fisheries, we have already started the process of repossessing all of them, not in Mombasa but in the entire country,” he said.
In the statement, the deputy governor named Mibuyuni, Marina, Nyali, Mzimu Wa komba, Aldina Jomvu, Kwa Kembo, Mwangala, Mwakuzimu, Magoda, Mvumoni, Shika Adabu,Maphophoni, Mwasefu, Ferry Ya Zamani, Bofu, Kokoni, Mweza, Migingo-Likoni, Madubaa, Madoboni, Mbuyuni, Shimanzi, Tudor Water Sports, Mombasa Water sports and Old Port.
“All these need to be repossessed because they either have turned into private entities or they have been encroached and have hampered fishing activities in the region,” he said.