By PHILIP MWAKIO
Seafarersâ Assistance Programme has called for the establishment of a Coast Guard unit to curb illegal fisshing at the vast Kenyan Coast.
Reacting to comments by Fisheries Minister Amason Kingi, the Seafarersâ Assistance Programme (Sap) Kenya co-ordinator Andrew Mwangura said such a unit should be independent of the regular marine police and be properly equipped.
âThey will need bigger and powerful boats that can go out into the open seas to track and policy our waters just like the Navy,â said Mwangura.
He said the unit will also come in handy in fighting commercial crime at sea like piracy, illegal gun running business, drug trafficking, contraband goods and human trafficking.
Mwangura challenged the Government to move fast and amend the fisheries act to allow more Kenyans to take up the fishing business.
âAt the moment, fishing in our waters, which has potential for big harvest, is in the hands of foreigners who are known to exploit our resources,â he said.
He added that for an effective Coast Guard unit to be established, amendments to Port state control and adoption of a national and international plan of action that will guide how fisheries matters are handled should be put in place.
Speaking during a tour of fisheries installations in Mombasa recently, Mr Kingi said policing of Kenyan territorial waters is under the Kenya Navy as there was no Coast Guard like in other countries.
âTo maximise full potential and benefits accruing from our ocean water, we need to have proper enforcement procedures and infrastructure to stem illegal incursions by foreigners,â Kingi said.
The Kenyan coast with more than 400 square kilometres and 3,000 metres deep and next to the fertile Somalia current upwhaling is not fully exploited.