Foreign trawlers and vessels operating within Kenya’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) are now expected to employ Kenyan crew, who have been trained by the government as part of developing and building the Blue Economy through job creation.
Kenya recently partnered with a Namibian company using two of their flagged vessels and the Bandari Maritime Academy to train the first batch of 400 youths in deep sea operations. The country licenses 70 fishing vessels to operate in its deep sea, with most of them being foreign-owned — China, Seychelles, Italy, Taiwan, and Hong Kong-flagged vessels.
Currently, foreign vessels and trawlers fishing in Kenya’s exclusive economic zones have employed foreigners including Sierra Leoneans, due to lack of local expertise in deep sea fishing.
“They are trained on fishing, safety and security of the sea. They will later be employed by the foreign vessels fishing within our waters,” said Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya.
The minister lamented the fact that Kenya’s deep waters are currently being exploited by foreign industrial fishing vessels because the country only has artisanal fishermen, exploiting just the shallow waters, as they lack the skill and technology for semi-industrial and industrial fisheries in deep waters.
Kenya's annual fish production stands at 160,000 tonnes against the potential of 300,000 tonnes annually, according to statistics from the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute.
The refurbished and rehabilitated Liwatoni Fishing Port will be the first Kenyan fishing port, and will offer “a first-class fisheries jetty, adequate cold storage, fish processing facility, fishmeal factory and a fish auction centre; support fishing operators, fish traders, bunkering facilities as well as space for boat repair and maintenance good enough to attract local and international operators,” according to the fisheries ministry.
But the country has several gazetted fish landing sites and fish markets along the coastline which lack basic fish landing facilities.
Kenya has earmarked the Bandari Maritime Academy to be the country’s primary institution of training and build fishing skills for fisherfolk.