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Kenya's first survey ship winds up maiden cruise

By Philip Mwakio | December 23rd 2015

Kenya’s first and only deep sea research vessel has returned to harbour after conducting its maiden study in the Indian Ocean.

Oceanographic research vessel, RV Mtafiti, concluded its ten-day voyage yesterday.

According to maritime officials, the 55.6 metre long research ship, which was donated to the Government by Belgium two years ago, left harbour on December 10 for the first research cruise along the Kenyan Coastline.

It covered the territorial waters and exclusive economic zones of Kwale and Kilifi in the Indian Ocean.

Yesterday morning, officers of the Kenya Navy (who are manning the ship) and marine research scientists from the Kenya Marine Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI) waved back as the small vessel glided back into Kilindini waters.

Also on board the vessel were officers from the State Department of Fisheries undertaking monitoring, control and surveillance.

The ship went straight back to anchor at the Kenya Navy Mtongwe Naval base.

 Marine resources

In a statement, KMFRI said the aim of the research was to conduct exploratory survey for off-shore pelagic and dermersal fisheries, sea bottom sediment sampling for biological and chemical analysis, water column nutrient profiling marine productivity and plankton study as well as to access the occurrence of marine mammals, sea birds and turtles.

President Uhuru Kenyatta had presided over the commissioning of the vessel early last year after it was donated by the Flanders Marine Institute and the Fund for Scientific Research in Belgium.

The vessel is the largest of its kind in the region and is being used to undertake physical, chemical, geological and biological oceanography research, besides carrying out fisheries stock assessment within the Exclusive Economic Zone.

President Kenyatta had said then that the vessel will also be utilised for exploratory experimental fishing to establish suitable means for the optimal exploitation of marine fisheries.

The President added that it would go a long way in improving the country’s capacity to safeguard its marine resources against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

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