By Mwakwaya Raymond
RETIRED General Samson Mwathethe is rooting for new measures to enable coastal communities to access oceans to eke out their living but without compromising the resource base.
Gen Mwathethe says The Oceans and Blue Economy office (TOBEO) that he currently chairs is keen to push for proper regulation that “opens up” accessibility to oceans by coastline communities so that they can benefit meaningfully from the sea.
This is why TOBEO has proposed Marine Fisheries Regulations through which to empower the Coastal fishing communities and lay a solid foundation for massive job creation.
Once the proposed measures are in place, Kenya would be able to catch and land 300,000MT of marine fisheries thus earning the country a staggering Kshs 100 Billion annually and creating some 240,000 jobs, Gen Mwathethe says.
He tabled the proposed measures at a national validation workshop in Mombasa on Wednesday May 19, 2022.
The regulations have proposed among other things provide an artisanal revolving fund, which will be created from a 2 per cent levy on the value of artisanal fisheries landings.
Beach Management Units (BMUs) will be responsible for managing the fund.
He said: “We also expect a further 20% of the entire landed value of marine fisheries to be dedicated for economic empowerment of artisanal fishers in the coastal counties that will be ploughed back to them”.
Other changes the regulations are expected to usher in include the following:
The coastal fishers through their BMUs will have powers to decide how marine fisheries will be accessed and who to be registered as a subsistence or an artisanal fisher;
Fishing rights will be used for profitable planning of investment on the basis of 5 years for artisanal fishers, 10 years for semi industrial fishers and 20 years for industrial EEZ fishers;
They will abolish fishers annual license;
They will establish fishing rights and quotas to guarantee sustainability of the marine resource;
They will separate fishing areas between artisanal and semi industrial and industrial fishers.
Mr Mwathethe spoke of the wide ranging benefits that a new regulatory framework would bring to the locals. These include ending the frequent conflict between various types of marine fishers will come to an end.
He told the participants that Lake Turkana which is also covered in the proposed new regime contributes a significant 5 per cent of inland fisheries production in the country. This, despite the lake facing huge challenges of high post-harvest loses, inadequate beach infrastructures, and limited fish processing facilities.
The lake has reeled under weak marketing systems, inadequate value addition technology, poor state of the beach access roads and transboundary resource based conflict. These problems, he said, would be history if the proposed development plan is implemented.
The plan to develop the lake which will be carried out in collaboration with the county government and other stakeholders will create more job opportunities improve socio economic welfare of fisher communities’ revenue base of the riparian counties and boost contribution of the fisheries sector to the counties Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
Cabinet secretary for Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives Mr Peter Munya said marine fisheries in Kenya account for less than 10% of the national fish landings.
In a speech presented on his behalf by Secretary Administrative Kassim Farah, the CS said the marine fisheries sustain jobs of more than 1 million individuals thus fisher folk, processor’s, traders and other service providers.
He noted that Kenya has an abundance of un tapped potential in Marine resources
along it’s marine coastline which extends over 650 kilometers.
He said he supported the proposed regulations fully saying the idea of rights based management system was novel.
Munya said the development of the draft started in mid-2021 and the regulations have been subjected to public and stakeholders’ scrutiny.
Among the organizations that have so far scrutinized the Regulations are;
Sector working Group (SWG), Parliamentary Oversight Committee, and the Parliamentary committee on delegated, coastal counties CEC and fishers.
For years the country had lacked proper policy, legal and institutional reforms in the fisheries sector.
This resulted in the development of fisheries management and development Act (FMDA) 2016.
The Act created several institutions namely the Kenya fisheries service; Kenya Fish Marketing Authority, Kenya Fish Levy Trust fund, Kenya fisheries Advisory Council,
Kenya fishing industries, Kenya fishing Industries Corporation.
The Principal Secretary Dr Francis Owino said the department has embarked on a mission to review several Fisheries regulations to align them to the constitution so as to conform to the fisheries functions assigned to the two levels of government.
He said the fisheries regulation under review include Inland Fisheries Regulations, Fisheries (Beach Management Unit) Regulations, Recreational (Inland and Riverine Fisheries) Regulations, Fisheries (Fish Safety and Quality) Regulations and Fisheries (General) Regulations.
The PS said the regulations are meant to provide standards for sustainable management and protection of the fisheries resources and recreational/sport fishing.