Kenya launches strategy to increase stake in lucrative tuna fisheries industry
Speaking during celebrations in Mombasa to mark World Fisheries Day celebrated every year on November 21st, Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Felix Koskei noted that Tuna Fisheries resources are significant in the global fish supply chain with their trade being estimated at about 356 Trillion shillings (US $4 Billion).
“There is great potential to increase the economic benefits of our people, arising from these under exploited tuna and tuna-like fisheries. The Tuna Fisheries Development and Management Strategy is a step towards the full realization of these economic benefits,” said the Cabinet Secretary.
The Cabinet Secretary further noted that the strategy seeks to build effective governance system of the marine fisheries sectory by providing institutional framework to ensure compliance with relevant national laws and international standards and agreements.
“At the end of the implementation period, the strategy targets to transform tuna fisheries into productive and sustainable modern, commercially oriented coastal and oceanic fisheries with direct positve impacts to employment, wealth creation, improved outcomes and foreign exchange earnings,” noted the Cabinet Secretary.
WWF Coastal East Africa Initiative Fisheries Programme Officer Edward Kimakwa noted that this is a big move for Kenya that would begin the process of positioning the country to reap more benefits from the highly lucrative global tuna industry. He however noted that a lot would need to be done to lay down necessary infrastructure to maximize benefits.
“This is a big move by the Kenyan government to position the country in the active and lucrative global tuna industry. However, a lot still needs to be done. The government and other key stakeholders will need to provide an enabling regulatory and infrastructural environment in order to bring about significant flow of benefits of tuna resources to the country at biologically, ecologically and socio-economically sustainable levels,” noted Mr. Kimakwa
The strategy, which will run from 2013 to 2018, aims to grow Kenya’s largely underdeveloped tuna supply chain that currently has rudimentary fishing vessels not capable of going beyond 20 nautical miles undertaking tuna fishing. In addition, the country does not have a commercial tuna fishing fleet and lacks even a single vessel capable of exploiting tuna resources prescribed to it by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea which grants a state special rights over exploration and use of marine resources. Currently the country grants fishing access to Distant Water Fishing Nations at a fee, which is not commensurate to the real value of the resource.
The plan further outlines how Kenya will benefit from its currently under-exploited tuna resources by transitioning from traditional tuna fisheries to modern commercially oriented high sea fisheries. This is expected to increase benefits to the country hence spur economic development.
Kenya lies within the rich tuna belt of the West Indian Ocean where 25% of the world’s tuna caught. Marine fisheries potential in Kenya is currently estimated to be between 150,000 to 300,000 metric tonnes whereas our current fishery production from this is only about 9,000 metric tonnes per year.
Only one factory in the country with an installed processing capacity of 105 metric tonnes per day is dedicated to tuna processing. Kenya therefore, accounts for less than 5% of the Western Indian Ocean’s processing capacity with the only tuna company in the country relying on supplies from distant water fishing nations for tuna supply.
By John Kabubu, WWF Coastal East Africa Initiative Communications.