Fishing industry is set for growth after years of neglect and near collapse. Kenyan fishermen will benefit more from their work due to the blue economy initiative.
Fish stocks have been declining, due to a number of factors including over fishing, changes in temperature, ocean currents, coastal erosion and flooding problems.
A decade ago, it was clear that the era of bountiful fishing in the territorial waters, was in decline. The fisheries sector no longer contributed as much to the national economy, because of high levels of illegal fishing, often from foreign vessels, declining fish stock, as well as lack of management and infrastructure.
Speaking when he commissioned the marine craft MV KSGS Doria in Mombasa, President Uhuru Kenyatta said the launch and commissioning, were a fulfillment of his administration in recovering Kenya’s lost dream, of protecting the vast resource potential in the county’s ocean waters.
“We failed to adapt to the trends in the maritime sector and completely lost focus. Today the ocean is emerging as an avenue where, its sustainable harnessing could boost the economy.” Uhuru said.
Blue economy refers to the sustainable use and conservation of marine, inland aquatic and coastal resources for food security, job creation, and economic growth. It is about fisheries, aquaculture, minerals, energy, transport, trade, seabed mining, coastal zone management, tourism, marine biotechnology, as well as aquatic endangered, threatened and protected species. Most importantly, it is about the livelihoods that can be derived and improved with these activities.
The President, directed the State Department of Fisheries and the National Land Commission, to ensure that all fish landing sites in private hands, are secured by the end of the first quarter of 2019. He said rehabilitation of jetties such as the Mombasa Fish Complex would lead to creation of jobs.
The full economic potential of marine resource has not been exploited, given that Kenya has a maritime territory of 230,000 square kilometres and a distance of 200 nautical miles offshore, which is equivalent to 31 of the 47 counties according to a 2017 report from the Kenya Marine Authority.
According to the report, blue economy contributes about US$1.5 trillion per annum globally (3 per cent of global GDP) and creates approximately 350 million jobs in fishing, aquaculture, coastal and marine tourism and research activities.
Countries in the Western Indian Ocean including Mauritius, Seychelles, Madagascar and Union of Comoros have developed action plans and advanced policies and institutional frameworks to support in exploiting the blue economy.
The estimated annual economic value of goods and services in the marine and coastal ecosystem of the Western Indian Ocean is estimated to be US$22 billion, and Kenya’s share is only 20 per cent, mainly from tourism.
In reality, fish consumption is at an all-time high which presents new challenges and opportunities. However, fishermen in particular need support and access to markets, for a path to prosperity.