BY MWAKWAYA RAYMOND
The Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture wants the Chinese fishing activities within Kenya’s water borders regulated or stopped altogether.
During an inspection tour of the Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Centre and the Multi-Million Liwatoni Fishing Complex, committee members also expressed the urge to enact laws that can cushion the fishing communities.
The committee chair, Moiben MP Silas Tiren, says the need to control Chinese fishing imports is crucial through coming up with ‘fresh’ regulations that will give maximum benefit to local players.
“We want to follow the law accordingly by involving the locals in public participation so as to come up with a binding legislation that will enable us to not only regulate the fishing activities by the Chinese but also to boost our own local fishermen,” he adds.
China is the world’s leading exporter of frozen fish. In 2017, it exported 11.6 per cent of the market (or US$2.7 billion), followed by the US with 9.5 per cent and Russia with 8.7 per cent.
According to the committee Kenya cannot continue importing Chinese fish while it has its own reserves in plenty within its water borders.
Currently, the country is trying to stop that possibility of the Chinese vessels fishing in its terrestrial waters and selling the same fish to its people. The fish trade between China and Africa has increased rapidly in the past ten years compared to other goods.
But Mandera South MP Adan Haji warns that they may be forced to come up with legislation that will totally ban any fish imports to protect its local fishing industry.
“We must make sure that our fishfolks get the maximum benefits and protection against highly sophisticated foreigners preying our waters by tabling legislation in Parliament to control this business,” he adds.
The Committee is also concerned over delayed remittance of resources by the National Treasury to ensure full operationalization of the monitoring, control and surveillance satellite centre at the Liwatoni fishing complex, which has so far stalled.
The Satellite Machine that is tasked with monitoring deep sea activities at the surveillance centre is said to have stalled forcing Kenya to rely on foreign satellite commands to monitor deep sea illegal fishing.
“What we have learnt is that the satelite machine at the Monitoring Centre is not working but there are collaborative efforts through maritime institutions that we relay information of any strange vessel within our waters, and if it’s a fishing vessel, they are supposed to pay for license,” said Igembe South MP John Mutunga, a member of the committee.
The legislator says the Agricultural committee will present budget proposals to have budgetary allocation to cater for the monitoring, control and surveillance centre in the Liwatoni Complex.
“The monitoring equipment is out of service for some time now, and it’s because of lack of maintenance service funds and regular payments. We will ensure that that money is put in the budget, and is submitted here. This is a serious facility to lack operation funds,” he says.
The satellite has not been paid Sh16 million maintenance fees for the last ten months, therefore, paralysing the monitoring of the sea activities out of which many local fishfolks continue to suffer from uncontrolled deep fishing.
Mr Tiren questioned why the National Treasury was yet to release monies to the centre for the last ten months. Already, according to parliamentarians at least Sh1.8 billion has been allocated to complete the construction work of the complex which has stalled.
“They have already advertised there were challenges but they have been solved. There is an allocation of Sh1.8 billion to continue with construction work after its work was stalled owing to irregularities,” he says.
“We have established that some services have stalled here at the monitoring control and surveillance centre because some monies have not been paid. The satellite which the centre uses to monitor has stalled because the subscription fee paid to service providers has not been paid,” the Moiben MP said while on a tour at the Liwatoni fishing complex on Monday, July 26, 2021
This happened as Mvita Member of Parliament Abdullswamad Nassir asked the government to expedite release of key resources to ensure full realization of the blue economy sector in the Coastal region.Edited by Mwakera Mwajefa