NAIROBI, September 3 – The government plans to implement a National Fisheries Policy, which would guide the development and management of the fisheries sector.
Fisheries Development Minister Paul Otuoma told Capital Business that the aquaculture policy, which should be ready by the end of September, would among other things help the government to channel resources that are necessary for the growth of the sector.
It would also ensure that the fishing community is included in the wider social and economic development processes in addition to directing research in other parts of the country where aquaculture could be sustainable.
“We are carrying out an Aquaculture Suitability Assessment in our country in order to concentrate our energies where returns will be cost effective,” Otuoma said.
The minister admitted the sector has been operating without a strategy.
Otuoma disclosed that his Ministry was also embarking on restructuring the Kenya Fisheries Marine Research Institute (KEMFRI).
“The restructuring would ensure that they have directorates of aquaculture, water resources, marine resources and quality assurance and policy framework,” he said.
Speaking after officially opening a COMESA fisheries strategy workshop, Otuoma also said that they were considering setting up a Fisheries Development Fund that would support some of the issues raised in the draft policy.
“We need to look at the incomes of fishermen. We need to make sure that the methods and the facilities used for fishing are safe and that is why we need the Fund,” he added.
The plan would also spell out how the country could exploit the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) within the Indian Ocean which covers about 200,000 square kilometres.
The Director of Investment Promotion and Private Sector Development at COMESA Dr Chungu Mwila expressed the commitment of all the 19 members towards promoting the sector as it contributes significantly to economic growth.
He said the bloc had launched a regional program that would promote the production and marketing of value-added fisheries products to tap into the regional and international markets.
COMESA region has access to a coastline of some 14,418 km² and an EEZ of about 301 million km².
It produces about 2.5 million metric tonnes of fish every year.
Commenting on the European Union ban on fish from COMESA countries, Mwila said the region was working with the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization in Jinja, Uganda to ensure fish exported to the European market is of good quality.
“Demand is determined by the consumers and so we have to ensure that they (products) meet all the set requirements,” he added.