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Shipping & Logistics

Lamu fishing fortunes turn around after night ban lifted

Fishermen at Shela beach in Lamu. FILE PHOTO |
Fishermen at Shela beach in Lamu. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Fishing in Lamu County has recorded tremendous growth since the ban on night fishing was lifted seven months ago.

This has been a big relief to the residents who mainly rely on the sector for livelihood.

In March this year, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i toured Lamu and ordered the lifting of the night fishing ban that had been in place for eight years.

The move was a relief for fishermen, particularly those in the border villages of Lamu and Somalia including Kiunga, Ishakani, Mkokoni, Kiwayu, Madina, Kiangwe and the surrounding areas who had seen their means of survival largely curtailed.

The ban had been imposed by the national government since 2011 following a spate of Al-Shabaab terror incidents where tourists and fishermen were kidnapped and taken hostage.

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Speaking to Shipping and Logistics in Lamu on Monday, the chairman of the Lamu fishermen and Beach Management Units (BMUs), Mohamed Somo said the fishing sector in the region had improved by over 40 percent between March and September this year.

Lamu has more than 6,000 fishermen with the main fishing destinations in the region being Kiunga, Ishakani, Kizingitini, Faza, Pate, Ndau, Kiwayu and Mkokoni.

The night fishing ban had led to a reduction in the number of fishermen by almost half, hitting hard the economy of the region.

Mr Somo said the fortunes of the sector are looking up again following the lifting of the night ban, with fishermen who had opted to quit the trade resuming their business.

“We’re happy that after the lifting of the ban we have recorded great improvement in the fishing sector,” said Mr Somo.

“Fishermen in Kiunga and Ishakani areas which are considered key fishing hubs can now venture to the sea anytime.”

Mr Suleiman Bahero, a fisherman in Kiwayu expressed confidence that the fishing sector in Lamu will significantly improve if the government will not impose new restrictions to the fishermen.

During his tour, Mr Matiangi also directed all fishermen in the region be registered electronically in a bid to curb illegal fishing.

Mr Bahero urged the county and national governments to improve the fish landing sites in the region to enable fishermen operate under conducive environments.

“We’re optimistic that our fishing sector will perform even better in coming days if the government won’t impose any more restriction to us here. My appeal to the county and national governments is to consider improving all the landing sites in Lamu which are in bad condition,” said Mr Bahero.

The fishermen lauded efforts by the national and county governments and other well-wishers in promoting the welfare of the fisher folk in Lamu.

Recently, fishermen in Kiunga, Kiwayu and Mkokoni received the Mvuvi Card, a document that enables the fishermen to conduct their activities without being harassed by security agencies.

The Mvuvi Card contains all the major identification information of the fishermen including their National Identity card numbers, a special serial number and their respective BMUs.

The card is installed with a microchip that will enable security officers to monitor and be able to know where each individual fisherman is on the ocean.

“Apart from lifting the night fishing ban, we’ve so many other reasons to appreciate what the government is doing to improve the fishing industry in Lamu. We’re no longer harassed by security agencies since we’ve been issued with Mvuvi Card,” said Abubakar Famau.

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