A maritime agency has identified fishing and shipping as major sectors to drive realisation of the blue economy’s immense potential.
The Kenya Maritime Authority(KMA) in its four-year strategic plan says Kenya has the potential of creating 12,000 jobs in the fishing sector by constructing fishing ports in Shimoni, Mombasa, Kilifi and Lamu.
The sector also has a potential to generate between Sh15 billion and Sh20 billion to the country’s Gross Domestic Product(GDP) annually.
The details are captured in the organisation’s four-year strategy plan dubbed Promoting sustainable maritime development.
The plan, which covers between 2019 and 2022, identfies shipping as one of the biggest trading areas with potential for huge growth if good policies are put in place.
“Ninety per cent of Kenya’s international trade is seaborne of which we pay out to foreign shipping lines and ships agents more than Sh300 billion annually representing an opportunity to implement policies to retain a portion of these earnings and create employment,” says part of the plan.
KMA further says Kenya’s maritime transport service contributes approximately Sh73 billion per year, with fisheries generating 48.8 billion.
Enforcing measures to land fish caught in the country’s Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ), the agency adds, will quickly raise fish processing capacity from the current 2,500 metric tonnes to 18,650 metric tonnes within the next one and half years.
The KMA adds that increasing annual per capita fish consumption from the current 4.6kg to the African average of 10kg and progressively to the global average of 20kg will increase investment opportunity, create more jobs and enhance food security for Kenya.
KMA director General Major (Rtd )George Okong’o said fishing is a key part of the blue economy, which needs to be fully exploited to benefit Kenyans more.
“In recognition of the fact that maritime and marine resources particularly in developing countries have remained largely untapped, blue economy offers a great opportunity for sustainable use of the marine space and resources to bring economic and social benefits,” he said.
In the strategic plan, KMA estimates that Kenya’s blue economy contributes an estimated Sh178.8 billion to the GDP annually. This could rise significantly to Sh430 billion if the sector’s potential is fully developed.
“Kenya has a coastline of about 640 km and a jurisdictional claim of ocean that extends 350 nautical miles (650 km) an area approximately 230,000 square kilometres (about 40 per cent total land area). Three out of five bordering countries are landlocked. The Lake Victoria has a shoreline of 3,440km and more than 3,000 islands,” the report says.
Another study by KMA on the commercial potential of Kenya’s two largest lakes revealed that the country’s extensive coastline resource base as well as its “impressive inland waters” are the source of wealth and well-being for numerous neighbouring communities.
The study also noted the widespread feeling that these rich resources and economic potential marine ecosystems remain largely underexploited.
The new report comes at a time when plans are at an advanced stage by the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) to start the construction of the Sh20 billion Shimoni fishing port.
In an interview, KPA Managing Director Dr Daniel Manduku said a tender for the construction of the fishing port is expected to be advertised by June.
“Shimoni port is going to be constructed through the Public Private Partnership (PPP) programme and we are going to advertise before the end of this financial year,” said Dr Manduku on phone.
The Kenya Fisheries Service (KFS) chairman Gonzi Rai said the government is currently expanding the Liwatoni landing site fish processing factory in Mombasa. This, he said will enable the factory to process bigger tonnage of fish.
The ageing plant has a capacity to process 1,050 tonnes of fish daily, but the government plans to expand this to 20,000 tonnes daily.
Mr Rai said the government policy requires that all foreign trollers give out 30 per cent of their catch for the country to process.
“When this processing plant becomes fully operational, we shall have many fishing vessels docking, creating about 3,000 jobs in various sectors connected to fishing,” he said.
The factory, he added, will also require a big manpower to handle the vessels that will be calling.
Wavuvi Association of Kenya national chairman Hamid Mohamed said the government only needs to implement the outcome of last year’s blue economy forum to create jobs and increase revenue from the sector.
Mr Mohamed told Shipping that Kenya’s acquisition of its own trollers to fish in its EEZ will be a great achievement.
“One aspect of Kenya benefiting from the blue economy is by getting its own trollers to manage fishing in its territorial waters with a troller having a capacity to carry 30 fishermen. If we have about 10 trollers at the coast for example, it means creating 300 jobs,” Mr Mohamed said.
The chairman further said jobs will be created at the dock yard where the vessels will be undergoing repairs and maintenance.
For the government to fully realise the gains of the blue economy, the Presidential order on repossession of all grabbed fish landing sites must be implemented, he said.
“In 1968, Mombasa had 68 landing site and by 1975, only 15 of them were gazetted. As we speak today, we have none. They were all grabbed and are now private properties,” said Mr Mohamed.
The fishing sector has for decades experienced several challenges, ranging from lack of modern fishing gears and lack of fish storage facilities.
Mr Mohamed said most of the fishermen especially along the coast are artisanal miners and lack enough requirements to carry out commercial fishing.
“That has given room for big fishing vessel to carry deep sea fishing. That means that our fishing is limited to just small catch as we cannot venture into deep waters. The sector does not favour us at all,” he said.
Mr Mohamed said his association currently has about 20,000 fishermen starting from Kiunga to Luna Lunga in Kwale county. But due to lack of fishing faiclities, he said they have re