Kenya confiscates, destroys smuggled fish from Somalia

Kenya’s suspension of seafood trade with Somalia through the Indian Ocean routes has not been lifted, and anyone caught engaging in the business will be arrested and the fish confiscated and destroyed, according to a Kenyan government official.

The county commissioner for the fish-rich Lamu County in Kenya enforced the edict of the Kenyan government when he destroyed nearly 12 metric tons of dried fish smuggled from neighboring Somalia in mid-April in defiance of a cross-border trade ban imposed in June 2019.

Kenya, which exports an estimated 2.2 percent of its total national export volumes to Somalia, earlier said the ban was necessary because trade through some coastal routes, especially Lamu, was promoting smuggling, human trafficking, and terrorism.

“Today we’re here destroying 761 bags of dried fish which translates to 12 [metric tons] ... We’ve seven suspects in custody. We will ensure they’re prosecuted,” Macharia said, the Daily Nation reported.

Both Kenya and Somalia are members of the eight-member Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a multinational body on development and environmental control, that has been developing a common fisheries strategy among its member states. The other members of the Djibouti-based organization are Ethiopia, Sudan, Eritrea, South Sudan, Djibouti, and Uganda.

Previously, the eight countries had resolved to promote fish production and regional cooperation in combating illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing that has made marine fisheries one of the leading illegally traded natural resources in Africa. The African Development Bank had previously estimated the losses from illegal marine fisheries trade for the continent at USD 2.5 billion (EUR 2.3 billion) annually.  

IGAD has pledged to facilitate fish trade among them by “promoting fisheries development through capacity building for all participants in the fisheries value chains to ensure access of fish and fisheries products to domestic, regional and international markets.”

Currently, IGAD countries have been fine-tuning the organization’s Regional Fisheries and Aquaculture Strategy (2016-2020) that provides opportunity for the members to “utilize the fish resource sustainably especially in arid and semi-arid area[s]s to combat food insecurity, malnutrition, build resilience and provide a clear road map for the intervention to be undertaken in the area of fisheries and aquaculture.”

But with Kenya imposing a ban on cross-border trade with Somalia and listing the transactions “an offense” the implementation of the first IGAD pillar on “agriculture development, natural resources management, and environment" that focuses on fisheries, could be delayed. 

Photo courtesy of Wollertz/Shutterstock 


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