President Uhuru Kenyatta commissioning the research vessel RV Mtafiti. [PHOTO: GIDEON MAUNDU/STANDARD]
MOMBASA: President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday commissioned a research sea vessel at the port of Mombasa with a call to county governments to work closely with the National Government to deliver on the development pledges to Kenyans.
He told legislators in the Senate and National Assembly to rise above partisan politics and support laws that will transform the country and improve on livelihoods.
He particularly told the Senate to enact laws that ensure prudent use of public resources in the county governments.
“The legislature should work with the executive on transformative laws that will bring tangible development and transform the country,” the President said.
President Kenyatta welcomed the proposal by sea-fishing counties to work together with the national government on policing of the Kenyan seas and rampant drug trafficking in the coast region.
“The Navy will work with the county governments on policing the sea,” he added.
The 56m-long Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV), the largest of its kind in the region, was donated by the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) and the Fund for Scientific Research in Belgium for fisheries research and conservation of marine life in the Indian Ocean.
The Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute’s RV Mtafiti sea vessel, will undertake physical, chemical, geological and biological oceanography research besides carrying out fisheries stock assessment within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
President Kenyatta said the ship will also be utilized for exploratory experimental fishing to establish suitable means for the optimal exploitation of marine fisheries.
He said the vessel will go a long way in improving on the country’s capacity to safeguard its marine resources against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
“Our lack of an offshore research vessel for oceanographic study and stock assessment, has been a major obstacle. Similarly, our monitoring, control and surveillance of these fisheries would now be improved by the offshore patrol vessel,” the President added.
He stressed the importance of oceanographic research to government institutions concerned with deep-sea resources, county governments and private investors undertaking sea-farming or other ventures in waters.
President Kenyatta said lack of an offshore research vessel for oceanographic study and stock assessment has been a major obstacle to research and management of marine stocks.
He regretted loss of up to Sh10 billion a year to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing out of Sh12 billion estimated by the Marine Fisheries Taskforce estimated four years ago.
President Kenyatta said despite being the largest and richest fishing ground, the country’s marine fisheries contribute only 5% of the 174,000 tons of local fish production.
The President said local fishermen had been confined to near-shore coastal waters, for lack of deep-sea fishing capacity leaving the marine exclusive economic zone to be explored by other nations.
He assured that the Government was live to the challenges facing local fishing industry and was exploring the feasibility of increasing production from Kenya’s waters on the Indian Ocean.
Kilifi Governor Jeffa Kingi said the five sea-fishing county governments will work with the national Government on policing the ocean borders.
Mr Kingi said the County and National governments will also work together on a special police unit to check on illegal fish exploitation and drug trafficking.
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