Kenya to buy $35m patrol ship in battle against illegal fishing at Coast

Friday April 15 2016

Kenya is set to buy a ship worth Ksh3.5 billion ($34.6 million) for combating illegal fishing in its territorial waters in the Indian Ocean.

Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries secretary Willy Bett said the patrol vessel had been ordered from Pakistan and is expected in January.

“The government is determined to root out illegal trawler fishing to prevent foreigners from plundering our marine fishery resources,” Mr Bett said during a meeting between his ministry and the parliamentary committee on agriculture at Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort in Mombasa on Tuesday.

A lack of patrol vessels has made it difficult to contain illegal fishing targeting valuable species such as tuna, which fetch higher prices in the global markets.

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Kenyan marine fisheries contribute a paltry five per cent of the 174,000 metric tonnes of fish produced in the country.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, Kenya has the potential to produce more than 174,000 metric tonnes of fish annually.

Earlier, some Coast leaders had expressed concern over the government’s failure to address illegal trawler fishing that threatens to deplete some fish species.

Discard smaller fish

Over the years, local fishermen have complained that trawlers have been fishing up to the seashores targeting prawns and lobsters off the coast of Malindi and Lamu.

After fishing, the trawlers discard smaller fish on the beach, which local fishermen claim has contributed to dwindling stocks in the sea.

In January 2014, President Uhuru Kenyatta said Kenya loses an estimated Ksh10 billion ($98.8 million) annually due to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in its territorial waters. He said the government would buy a patrol vessel to help curb illegal fishing.

Six years ago, Marine Fisheries Task Force reported that Kenya loses Ksh12 billion ($118.6 million) annually due to illegal fishing.

Kenya’s marine fish landings are almost all from the more than 10,000 fishermen operating 4,000 small boats with gillnets, hook and lines, shark nets, beach seines and traps within the inshore areas.

Note: 1 USD = 101.170 KES