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Fishermen cast nets afar as imports dry up

By Reuters | March 26th 2020


The Coronavirus pandemic has handed Kenyan fishermen an unexpected boon – a rush of customers who now shun imported Chinese frozen fillets in favour of freshly caught fish from Lake Victoria.

Kenya bought $23.2 million (Sh2.47 billion) worth of frozen fish from China in 2018, according to the International Trade Centre, almost all of its fish imports. Fishermen have long complained that the cheap imports were strangling local trade.

The Coronavirus has slowed Chinese imports. Nervous customers have turned to local fish. But Kenya will soon face shortages unless imports from China resume. China produces just over a third of what Kenya consumes.

Kenyan fishermen, like 38-year-old Maurice Misodhi, whose skin has been weathered by the sun and wind during two decades on the water, have had a bumper month. Based at Dunga Beach in Kisumu, customers want every fish he catches.

Mr Misodhi says the Chinese lockdown seemed to have dried up imports of cheaper Chinese fish.

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