MP calls for protection of local fish market from imports

A fishmonger weighs Nile Perch at Mbita Pier. Two kilograms of Nile perch retails for at least Sh750. [Sammy Omingo, Standard]

The government has been asked to enact policy measures to protect local fish farmers and help them tap into high-value foreign markets.

Mukurwe-ini MP John Kaguchia noted an increase in consumption of fish and now wants local fish mongers protected against cheap imports.

Speaking during consideration for the appointment of Kenya Fish Market Authority chairperson nominee Martin Ogindo, Mr. Kaguchia regretted that foreigners were exploiting the fish market at the expense of local fish farmers.  He said there has been an increase in fish consumption thanks to its nutritional value and this has seen the venture generate good income.

He said Kenya has USD1.5 million worth of fish production coming from freshwater lakes, marine, and aquaculture which Nyeri County leads besides doing well in ornamental fish farming.

"Fish farming in Kenya is however low because of the exploitation by superpowers signing contracts with our country under the guise of development projects. By signing the contracts, they exploit our fisheries and curtail our ability to earn through foreign exchange, ensure food security and a trade balance,” said Kaguchia.

“As a country, we lack statistics of how much we earn through the fish trade because foreign powers harvest and export our fish and pocket the millions at our expense,” he added.

This comes after President William Ruto early this month announced the expansion of fish farming in Nyanza and other parts of the country to boost livelihoods. The President said the government would teach the farmers value-addition methods to ensure they raked in more from the sale of the fish.

Ruto promised that his administration would support the fish industry through the allocation of funds.

“Fishing has a huge potential that must be exploited. When we add value, we will earn more and generate more jobs for the youth,” he said.

Last year, Kenya Kwanza government pledged to increase annual fish production from 29 tonnes, valued at Sh12.8 million to 62 tonnes.

Notably, aquaculture is critical in the Kenyan economy as it is a source of food and livelihood for thousands that depend on it.

However, Africa’s fish industry faces a significant supply-demand discrepancy, with aquaculture poised to fill the gap as demand continues to grow across the continent.

Kenya-based aquaculture company, Victory Farms, in its latest report notes that the East African fish supply deficit is one of the greatest supply-demand imbalances in the global food system today.

“Regional governments estimate a supply gap of one million metric tonnes of fish per annum. The aquaculture industry supplies meet a mere 3 percent of the deficit,” reads the report in part.