Kenya falls back on destructive fishing gear ban

Saturday February 11 2023
Fishermen at Gazi beach in Msambweni

Fishermen at Gazi beach in Msambweni, Kwale County in Kenya. Kenya is seeking a delay on the ban of destructive fishing gear in the oceans. PHOTO | FILE | NMG


Kenya is seeking a delay on the ban of destructive fishing gear in the oceans, departing from an earlier position where it supported an immediate restriction on industrial-scale equipment that pollutes marine environments and is blamed for depleting tuna fish stocks through overfishing of juveniles.

And while Nairobi says it supports a ban on non-biodegradable gear, it wants discussions on a replacement. The ban was set to be effective December.

“In the spirit of harmony and to make it easier to reach a consensus on drifting fish aggregating devices (DFADs) management, I hereby direct that the position submitted by Kenya on the issue DFADs management be withdrawn for the time being to allow for further consultations with other Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) member countries, scientific research communities, stakeholders and local affected communities,” said Salim Mvurya, Kenya’s cabinet secretary for Mining and Blue Economy.

Blow to IOTC

Kenya’s move was a blow to the 30-member IOTC, which has pushed for the ban to protect local fishing communities.

Speaking at the 11th meeting of the IOTC technical committee in Mombasa, Mvurya shared a number of proposals, among them reduction of synthetic marine debris and use of natural or biodegradable material to make new gear.


Frédéric Le Manach, the scientific director of the French ocean conservation group Bloom said the new resolution will give room for yellowfin and big-eye tuna populations to rebuild.

Countries using the DFADs have been pushing for the extension of the use of synthetic materials in the Indian Ocean.

To reduce marine garbage, IOTC has proposed the use of fully biodegradable DFADs and reduction of the number from current limit of 300 down to 150.

More than 200,000 metric tonnes of fish are caught annually in the Indian Ocean.