Ban On Night Fishing in Lamu To Stay, Says County Commissioner

The ban imposed by government on night fishing for Kiunga fishermen in Lamu East shall remain in force indefinitely.

Fishermen in the area will also be subjected to a new order which require them to be identified and vetted by security officers in the region before they are approved to operate in the Lamu ocean waters.

Speaking to journalists in his office, Lamu County Commissioner Mr Joseph Kanyiri stated that serious action will be taken against all fishermen who insist on going against the ban.

The ban has lasted in the area for over five years after it was introduced by the national government in 2011 following a spate of tourist and fishermen abductions by Al-Shabaab militants by then.

Currently, the area is under heavy guards, including the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF), Kenya Navy, the Kenya Police, GSU and normal marine officer who conduct day and night patrols both on air, land and water to ensure security of the locals is not hampered.

Mr Kanyiri said those who will be found fishing during the night will be arrested and charged.

“The ban in Kiunga stands indefinitely. No fishing at night and if you dare us we shall arrest you. We don’t want excuses when it comes to the security of this place. We don’t want to take any chances,” said Mr Kanyiri.

He directed that all fishermen carry along their original copies of their National Identity Cards whenever they ply the Indian Ocean on their fishing missions.

The commissioner also rejected a request by Lamu leaders led by Governor Issa Timamy who had wanted the county security committee to scrap a new security directive requiring fishermen to carry their original IDs on their fishing ventures and instead be allowed to carry only photocopies of the document.

Mr Kanyiri insisted for the original copies of IDs for all fishermen since the move is aimed at ensuring the security of Lamu is contained and prioritized.

He said any fisherman who shall be found without an ID card or with a copy of the same shall be promptly arrested and charged for security breach.

“Security officers in volatile areas such as Kiunga in Lamu East have been conducting vetting for all fishermen. It has come to my attention that many youth involved in the fishing activity don’t turn up for the vetting. I appealed for them to turn up and undergo the vetting process since it’s crucial for their safety,” said Mr Kanyiri.

He said, “Our leaders here in Lamu have been advocating for the fishermen to be allowed to go fishing with photocopies of their IDs. That can’t happen since it’s one of the police requirements to identify an individual by being issued with an original copy of IDs or any other document and not a photocopy. Fishermen must adhere to any security directive given and nothing less.”

Fishermen in the county say the fishing ban has greatly affected their livelihoods since the trade is said to be more productive in the evenings and nightfall when they report higher catches.

About 90 per cent of residents in Kiunga and Lamu East generally depend on fishing as their main source of livelihood.

(Story by Nakeeisha Wema)

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