Fishermen want coast guards to stop harassing them in the Indian Ocean

Fishermen in Kilifi County have decried continued harassment by coast guards.

The fishermen urged the government to come up with measures to protect those who lack documentation.

Kilifi Beach Management Units (KBMU) Charles Nyale said small-scale fishermen face constant harassment from the Kenya Coast Guard Services and the Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA).

Mr Nyale said that Kilifi has more than 35,000 fishermen, with only 20,000 registered with BMUs, adding that those not registered were mostly seasonal fishermen who venture into the sea to get fish to feed their families.

Kilifi Beach Management Units comprises 17 BMUs along the Kilifi coastline from Mtwapa to Marereni.

According to the BMU chairman, there are 103 fish landing sites in Kilifi County, but most of them have been grabbed and cannot be developed due to pending court cases.

"We have surrendered coordinates to the county physical planner, but nothing has been done.

"Climate change has affected fish stock in the Indian Ocean. To get good quantities, you must go in the deep sea. Landing sites have been grabbed, and beach walls erected, blocking access to the sea," said Nyale.

He also called on the government to consider sponsoring fishermen at the Bandari College in Mombasa to acquire the coxswain certificate to reduce harassment in the sea.

KMA ratified legislations requiring all boat operators to have a coxswain certificate, but the fishermen cannot afford the course.

"The government should sponsor us at the Bandari College so that we can get the coxswain certificates to reduce harassment. We also need rescue boats to help in times of emergencies," he added.

The cries of the fishermen come at a time Maritme Affairs CS Salim Mvurya is distributing funds to groups whose activities are aligned with the blue economy.