Kenya makes bid to boost fisheries sector

Published on
September 25, 2020

Kenya’s aspiration to boost its fishing sector is gaining momentum with the development of a new modern fishing port and the streamlining of the ownership and operation of fish-landing sites.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has injected fresh energy into the ongoing renovation, operationalization, and expansion of  the Liwatoni Fisheries Complex on the country’s coast by ordering the project’s completion by March 2021. Kenyatta has said the project will result in value addition in the country’s fish supply chain.

The project – which comes after the Liwatoni fishing landing site was surrendered to the government by a private company that had illegally acquired it – is sponsored by the State Department of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Blue Economy, and is one of the key priority initiatives for the 2019/2020 financial year, according to the National Treasury. Others include operationalization and accreditation of fish quality-control laboratories, rehabilitation of fish landing sites in Lake Victoria, and the empowerment of fisheries institutions in Kenya such as the Kenya Fisheries Service and Kenya Fish Marketing Authority.

On 22 September, Kenyatta said the ongoing re-development of Liwatoni Fish Landing Site into a modern Fishing Port is expected to pave the way for it to be used as the sole landing site for all commercial fishing vessels operating in Kenyan coastal waters.

“Fishing vessels found to be in contravention of this requirement will have their licenses revoked,” Kenyatta spokesperson Kanze Dena said in a statement. Kenya currently has an estimated 197 fishing landing sites.

Dena said Kenyatta has “directed the National Treasury to release funds for the construction of an ultra-modern tuna fish factory at the Liwatoni Fishing Port.”

Additionally, Kenya's Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries has until June 2021 to undertake the training of at least 1,000 Kenyan fishermen “who will be absorbed by vessels operating in Kenyan waters.”

“His Excellency the President has encouraged investors interested in the country's expanding blue economy to take advantage of the reforms in the sector by investing in Kenya,” Dena said.

Although Kenya’s marine and coastal waters maximum sustainable yield is estimated at between 150,000 and 300,000 metric tons, according to the FAO, much less than that is landed because of “infrastructural limitations and inappropriate fishing craft and gear.”

Under the country’s blue economy development strategy planned through 2030, Kenya is inviting private investors to partner with the government in developing relevant fishing infrastructure and support small- and medium-sized fishing companies to modernize their operations.  

Photo courtesy of Kenya's State House

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