Chinese fish imports flood Migori beaches amid shortage

Dorine Akinyi displays her Tilapia fish at Dunga beach in Kisumu county on January 21 2021.The cost of Fish continues to escalate as the catch dwindles at Lake Victoria following the rise in water levels. (Collins Oduor, Standard)

Fishmongers from Migori County are supplementing their daily stocks with imported fish from China as they struggle to meet rising local demand.

The traders operating from the Migori Town Market said the fish, which is usually cheaper, is normally delivered every Friday. But many traders are unwilling to openly admit their stock is from China and often pass it off as local fish.

Mary Akoth, one of the traders, said suppliers capitalise on inadequate local supplies, with the catch from Lake Victoria dwindling by the day.

“The fish is usually brought in every Friday, which is the market day,” said Ms Akoth. Traders from the market get their fish from fishermen on Muhuru and Sori beaches. The imported fish goes for Sh250 apiece compared to the local variety that sells for between Sh300 and Sh400 depending on size.

Graphics: The Standard

Some customers, however, are specific on the kind of fish they want, although unscrupulous traders sometimes are not forthcoming on the source of their fish.

“I can provide the fish (imported) if a customer places their order,” said one trader who did not want to be named.

According to Pricilla Akinyi, who operates from the Posta area in Migori town, she has not come across the imported variety. But Migori Agriculture Executive Valentine Ogongo disputed the sale of fish imported from China in the county.

“What is being called Chinese fish could be fingerlings sourced from the Kenya Marine Research Institute and is bred locally in fish farms,” said Mr Ogongo.