Nairobi hosts marine conference amid declining yields

Sustainable Blue Economy Conference preparations on 25th November 2018. [David Gichuru, Standard]

Kenya’s fishing industry has been shrinking in value even as the imports hit the country’s market over the last two years.

The country, which is hosting a global conference on water resources, saw fish production’s contribution to the economic decline from 0.7 per cent in 2014 to 0.4 per cent last year.

Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows the value of fishing and aquaculture dipped from Sh40 billion in 2015 to Sh36 billion last year.

Kenya’s declining fish production has led to the increased importation of the delicacy, especially by Chinese firms. During the Small and Medium Enterprises Presidential Round-table forum at Strathmore University in Nairobi recently, President Uhuru Kenyatta empathised with local fishermen who incurred losses due to fish imports from China.

The KNBS data shows that the industry employed 322 formal wage employees in marine fishing and 346 in freshwater fishing. Most of those engaged in fish production are informal fishermen who lack equipment and finances to scale up and benefit from the value chain.

Kenya is hosting delegates from 185 countries for a three-day forum. The event offers the country opportunities to establish markets and links with global value chains.

“It is my hope that Sustainable Blue Economy Conference 2018 will trigger commitments that will transform Kenya and the global community for generations,” said Foreign Affairs PS Macharia Kamau.

On Wednesday, Kenya inked a bilateral marine deal with Mozambique, which produces about 132,000 tonnes of fish annually.