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State lifts ban on fishing near Somalia border

Shela beach in Lamu
A man buys tuna from a fisherman at Shela beach in Lamu. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NMG 

The government has lifted the ban on fishing activities off the coast near the Somalia border following improved security.

Coast Regional Coordinator John Elung’ata said security had improved in Lamu as the Kenya Defence Forces and police intensified their patrols.

“We want normalcy to return to Lamu, from Hindi up to the borders, even to our fishermen who have been afraid of venturing into the deep seas.

“We want you to start fishing; the government will give you fishing safety gears, including vests, good nets and fishing boats,” he said after holding security meetings in the county.

“So, fishermen, you can now go to the distance and get the best fish stock; don’t just stick within the shallow waters; don’t fish within the high watermark; go farthest into the deep sea. We want you to fish and supply to Mombasa and Nairobi.”

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Mr Elung’ata is also the security committee chairman in coast region.

Early this month, Kenya banned fishing activities near the Somalia border over security concerns.

Lamu County Commissioner Joseph Kanyiri prohibited all fishermen from carrying out their activities in Ras Kamboni and any other areas past Kiunga, which are close to the Kenya-Somalia border.
Mr Kanyiri said the areas close to the border have had incidents of drug trafficking and trade in contraband goods sneaked in from Somalia.

Blue economy

“There are some areas that our fishermen will probably want to go fishing but those are no-go areas.

“The area next to Somalia border, that’s Ras Kamboni and any other area past Kiunga town.

“We’ll continue to review the situation; we’ll be happy to communicate to the fishermen as and when they can resume fishing in those places,” said Mr Kanyiri when he announced the ban.
Wavuvi Association of Kenya chairman Hamid Omar said the ban had affected the production of fish in Lamu.

He praised the government for lifting the ban, saying it would boost the sector.

“We thank the government for lifting the ban. It had affected Lamu fisher folk. With improved security, fishermen in Lamu will now start fishing in the high seas and increase production. If the government will give us modern boats and safety gear, that will boost the industry,” said Mr Omar, who is also a board member at the Fish Marketing Authority.

He said Lamu is among areas with high production of fish due to rich harvesting grounds.

Mr Elung’ata urged the fishermen to venture into the deep seas and exploit marine resources to spur growth of the blue economy.

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