By Joseph Masha
The Government has received Sh3 billion from the World Bank to improve fishing in the Coast region. Speaking in Kilifi over the weekend, Fisheries Development minister, Amason Kingi, said the money has been channelled to the Government through the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Institute.
The minister decried the fact that despite the expansive access to the vast Indian Ocean, Coast region produces only six per cent of the country’s fish output, with the rest of the catch coming from Lake Victoria and other sources.
“It is shocking to learn that Coast, which is blessed with the Indian Ocean, has been contributing only six per cent of the total fish exportation while Victoria and other local water sources from rivers and other lakes from upcountry have been producing over 94 per cent of the fish being exported to other countries,” said Fisheries Development minister.
The minister blamed lack of modern fishing gear for low yields. “Our local fishermen have no capacity for large scale fishing due to the use of inferior fishing gear and cannot venture into the deep sea,” he said. Kingi made the remarks at the graduation of 110 students who have completed a one-month training on beach survival skills.
It was coordinated by US navy Maritime Civil Affairs in collaboration with the Kenya Wildlife Service and Kenya Red Cross Society.
The US navy Maritime Civil Affairs Team Central Coast Captain Corry Cole said US Navy had introduced the Ocean safety training programs to local fishermen and other users of the Ocean in collaboration with the Government to improve fishermen’s safety at sea.
Captain Cole said most people living on the coastal line depend on fishing for their livelihood, but many die at sea for lack of rescue equipment and training when danger strikes.
“The US Navy is concerned with the safety of local fishermen and other users of the ocean, and that is the reason why we have teamed up with Government agencies to introduce the safety skills training program to the users of the ocean,” said Captain Cole.
The minister admitted Kenya does not have expertise on seaborne rescue, but would co-operate with the US to develop it. He also said the Government is working on plans to launch a Coast Guard Unit to combat marine disasters.