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Marine vessel to start Indian Ocean patrols this year

Kenya Navy officers patrolling Kenya's coastline: MV Doria will work closely with the Kenya Navy in its patrols. Photo | Laban Walloga | NMG
Kenya Navy officers patrolling Kenya's coastline: MV Doria will work closely with the Kenya Navy in its patrols. Photo | Laban Walloga | NMG 

The Sh3.6 billion sea patrol vessel that was acquired by government to help fight illegal fishing is to begin full operations this year.

Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute research officer, Patrick Gwada, said MV Doria has been running trials since it was commissioned last year.

The official said there was a delay in patrol because no specific budget had been allocated for the ship’s operations.

“The main operations will start in the next financial year (2018- 2019). Currently MV Mtafiti, the research vessel, and MV Doria, the patrol one, share the same kitty. Probably moving ahead it is going to have a fully funded kitty for its operations,” Mr Gwada said.

Speaking in Mombasa today, Mr Gwada said the patrols will move around the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) waters to monitor fishing operations and the fleets involved.

The EEZ of a country is defined by the United Nations as a sea zone over which the State has special rights with regard to exploration and use of marine resources.

The offshore vessel, which was commissioned last year, is expected to boost security and help curb illegal fishing.

Work with navy

Last year, the government acquired the billion-shilling patrol ship from Bangladesh to curb unlawful exploitation of Indian Ocean resources.

The 54.7-metre long vessel, which was ordered for the Ministry of Fisheries, Livestock and Agriculture, has a helicopter deck that can accommodate a five-tonne chopper.

It will report illegal, unregulated fishing while working closely with the Kenya Navy.

Research

Also in the pipeline are internship programmes aboard the MV Mtafiti research vessel.

“There is a plan to open it up to university partners and later on for students' internships .We want to train students in the universities. They can also come on board and learn research operations aboard modern sea going research vessels,” he said.

Kenya, through the The Kenya Marine Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI), received the research vessel as a gift from the Belgian government.

The oceanographic ship is used to undertake stock assessment and experimental fishing to establish suitable fishing technology in the country's EEZ.

“We are also planning to have open day...Already few students have been given the exposure. Even if there are no sailing orders for it to go offshore, they can walk in and have guided tours within the anchored vessel,” he said.

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