By Joel Mzanta
The fishing community in Lamu County have benefited from a fishing gear exchange programme aimed at stopping overfishing of different variety of its sea harvest.
Under the programme, about 176 fishermen operating at Kiunga base will be required to use eco-friendly nets that will sustain fishing practices.
The Lamu government is in collaboration with the Northern Rangeland Trust and the Nature Conservancy in providing fishermen crews with the nets that will not deplete sea productivity.
Through Governor Issa Timamy, the programme saw the fishing community exchange their destructive seine nets to the eco-friendly ones during a function at Kiunga Marine National Reserve (KMNR).
The governor praised 11 fishermen crew out of the 15 for surrendering their former fishing gears that impacted negatively on marine ecosystem leading to wastage of fish produce.
Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS), stats indicates that 60 per cent of fishermen’s catch is throw away as wastage once its caught by the beach seine nets.
These nets Beach made of nylon fibre of varying mesh sizes and lengths ranging from 200 to 300 metres and have floats along the top and weights at the bottom act as blockage for different varieties of marine creatures.
The nets are popular with fishing community for catching everything they encounter, thus, damaging high volumes of juvenile fish, coral reefs and seagrass.
Says Timamy: “This voluntary exchange of beach seines nets in support of 176 fishers is going to be a game changer at the Kiunga Marine National Reserve.”
The programme, according to the governor, is in line with the County government’s blue economy agenda of promoting ethical fishing practices.
George Maina, the nature conservancy Africa fisheries strategy manager, says that the organisation is committed to working with fishing communities and other partners to ensure fisheries are managed in a way that stabilises supply of seafood, improves coastal communities and protects ecosystem conservation.
Kiunga Wildlife Conservancy Association chairman Sentiments echoed by the Chairman Ali Shali welcomed the cooperation engagement saying it will go a long way in helping the local community use scientific expertism in understanding and managing the sea economies.
Coast region director Hassan Yusuf says NRT is working at the grassroot level with local fishermen to ensure that the they voluntarily exit from using destructive nets.
According to him there is need for joint efforts among all stakeholders in stewarding sustainable fishing practices that will encourage healthy marine ecosystems and livelihood benefits.
Senior Research Scientist at Kenya Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Dr Gladys Okemwa notes that scientific monitoring will be conducted to ascertain the impact of the new gears in terms of catches in volumes, species and sizes of fish.
“Scientific monitoring before and after the gear exchange will help in understanding how the new gear types perform in terms of the catch volumes, species and sizes as well as the economic benefits.”
She adds that incorporating the local knowledge of the fisher community has been instrumental in securing buy-in and ensuring that the initiative meets community needs and environmental objectives.