report into the murky waters of East-African sea-fisheries
February 12, 2008
June 20, 2007
April 10, 2007
December 14, 2005
August 14, 2005
August 11, 2005
Update: March 12, 2005
SAP-NET March, 2005
February 04, 2005
February 18, 2005
February 25, 2004 (PDF)
Alpha continues to sell Baby-Squids in sizes down to 3 cm
through Nakumatt Supermarkets and other outlets in Kenya.
Man-made Marine Disaster to worsen?
The battle for fish,
shrimps, octopus, squid and lobster escalates in the Western Indian Ocean. Consumers must wake up.
- 26. 01. 2005 wtn - While
the most recent Tsunami has spared the coastal areas of Kenya and
the tidal waves nowhere reached above the high-water mark, the
threat to the coastal ecosystems continues to come from within.
inshore trawling was banned along the Kenyan coast - after many
years of struggle by environmentally concerned organizations and
citizens and already under the former government of then President
Daniel Arap Moi - the new Kenya Government seems to disregard all
decrees and agreements as well as its own political commitment
towards poverty eradication as well as the respective Millennium
Goals it signed at the United Nations.
AS MARINE VACUUM-CLEANERS
is that with so called "research permits" - following
the Japanese way of circumventing international laws against
whaling - the Kenya Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries
Development (MLFD) through the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research
Institute (KEMFRI) had repeatedly issued permits to Mombasa based
fish industries like Alpha Ltd., Basta & Sons Ltd., East
African Seafoods Ltd., under which the banned trawling - mainly
targeting the high-valued shrimps for export - simply continued
today and after the scientists from KEMFRI withdrew from being
misused in the scam, the Ministry continues unabated to issue such
“research licences”, even though it does not have own research
capacity and only KEMFRI is tasked by law to conduct scientific
marine research in the country (still- and video-footage of this
pseudo-legal trawling e.g. by M.S. Venture, operated by the
Italian company Basta & Sons Ltd. from Mombasa - even right up
to the coral reefs of Malindi and thereby violating the 5 and 3
miles boundaries - from just a few weeks back is available). The
by-catch of such “scientific looting”, which makes up to 70%
of the haul in this shrimp-trawling, is usually discharged by the
trawlers, since they need their cold-storage for the valued prey,
leaving the surface of the sea covered with dead juvenile fish and
other marine life-forms.
also neither Basta & Sons nor EAS ever showed any
environmental concern, it is Mr. Minaz Kurji of Alpha Fine Foods
Ltd., who many insiders of the food industry point out as the man
behind most of the destructive industrial and over-fishing of the
coastal waters in the western Indian Ocean from Somalia down to
Mozambique during the last two decades. Today Nawaz Kurji fronts
for the whole Alpha Group and Arif Kurji for its marine Division.
Despite being Ismaili in faith and close to their leader the Agha
Khan, the Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims and direct
descendant of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him),
the Kurji family seem never to have heard of the teaching given by
the Holy Qoran, like Sure 13, Aya 8, which says: "Do no
mischief on the Earth!"
the centre of the marine web in the Western-Indian-Ocean also sits
Capt. M. Esposito, originally of Southern Engineering Company (SECO),
as link between the Italian, European and Asian businesses
involved in the whole marine exploitation and transport. Though
today operating mainly from Tanzania he often represents the Kenya
Fish Processors and Exporters Association (AFIPEK), based in
Nairobi and Mombasa. Like other producer groups AFIPEK has put no
environmental conditions on its members and is concerned only if
the European Union would slap another ban on the fish exports from
Kenya due to concerns caused by unhealthy processing or because
the EU likes to find Salmonella when its own fishing fleet
provides surplus and the good fish from East-Africa infringes on
the marketing of their own catch. Since the Mauritanian disaster,
where the EU managed all the fisheries and scooped those seas
empty, nobody believes that this body would be of real help to
developing countries or interested to empower local fisheries.
Even the most recent plan to send a part of the European fishing
fleet in a fully subsidised way to
Tsunami-hit South-East Asia to "revive local fisheries"
seems more to be guided by the fear of various development banks
from European countries, who also invested massively in the
fish-processing industry over there, to loose their money. If
during the exercise some cheap fish finds its way then to the
European consumer - even better. It might even please some of the
European taxpayers, who otherwise are only fooled with such
catch of shrimps from the “research-trawling” in Kenya,
however, is sucked up by the markets everywhere without any
hesitation or imposing overly eager sanitation checks. Since
the official trawling ban in Kenya and the ongoing circumvention
by "research trawling" no scientific data of these
ventures were ever presented, and though the failure to deliver
these figures clearly violates the agreements, such licenses are
today simply renewed "to gain more data".
for Kenya, there is a caucus of the so called stakeholders for the
fisheries sector too, termed the Kenya Marine Forum (KMF), which
sees itself as a scientific committee though real scientists
rarely participate. This group, however, has no power and - while
being wined and dined in plush coastal resorts - the forum members
remain rather mum on the crucial questions of marine ecosystem
destruction along the Kenya coast. No wonder, since critical
scientists, NGOs and groups of artisanal fishermen are usually not
invited and the KMF, besides the more tame representatives of
civil society, is more or less just the club of the exploiters and
processors. Can it get worse? – Yes, it does get worse!
NEW THREAT TO COASTAL WATERS IN KENYA
is further that a new threat is posed to the Malindi Watamu
Biosphere Reserve: Commercial Ring-Net Fishing, which had not been
practised by Kenyan operators before.
are surrounding nets and, as operated by industrial fisheries, are
seines which - in structure - combine the features of the round
haul seine (having the bunt at the centre and being flanked by two
wings) and the purse seine. They are usually operated by one or
two trawlers. Apart from a few exceptions, like in crab fishing,
they are surface nets in which the float-line is supported by
numerous floats and some use an auxiliary skiff.
are nets which catch the fish by surrounding them both from the
sides and from underneath, thus preventing any marine life-form
larger than the tiny mesh from escaping into deeper waters. Such
nets retain all the marine life caught and the percentage of
by-catch (i.e. also species not licensed) hauled on board and
killed is exorbitant. But who cares since there are companies for
chicken-food waiting to buy such loot for good money.
to its destructive impact on coastal fisheries e.g. the Government
of the Philippines already banned in 1985 all commercial ring-net
fishing by industrial vessels of more than three gross tons and
within seven kilometres from the shoreline. Also the ring-nets or
lamparas used in Malindi are designed and constructed to encircle
a whole shoal of fish, which often is tracked by divers who
illegally use diving tanks to spot the fish and guide the vessel.
Each catch usually exterminates the whole shoal.
the Malindi Marine National Park has been designated as a
Biosphere Reserve under the Man & Biosphere programme of the
United Nations Education and Science Organization (UNESCO), the
MLFD, headed by Minister Joseph Konzollo Munyao, his hyperactive Director
Fisheries (Coast) Mrs. Nancy Gitonga, who usually is pulling the
strings, and her Fisheries Officer for the Coast Province,
Assistant Director Mr. Godfrey V. Monor, who normally signs the
licences, act as ring-net promoters. Kenya Fisheries has at the
moment signed away more than 200 commercial fishing licences to
trawlers, long-liners etc. and one wonders if there is any fish
left in the Kenyan sea to justify such additional off-take by the
officials are pushed by a company called Fayaz Bakery Ltd. from
Mombasa and Kilifi, which engages in this detrimental fishing
practice on an industrial level as well as by a former Kenya Navy
officer, who operates from offices in Dubai (United Arab Emirates)
and deals in sea products. Retired Major Seif Sheyumbe, who owns
himself a commercial ring-net fishing vessel in Kenya, was even
allowed to use undersize nets (¼ inch mesh size), while the local
fishermen are being compelled by law to observe the 2 inches mesh
selective application of law in favour of industrial
ring-net-operators is persecuting poor local fishermen and calls
for thorough investigation by the legal apparatus in Kenya. The
facts that employees of the International Union for the
Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), which has its
African Base in Kenya, spend many days with sun, sand and sea
along the coast and are fully aware of the problems, or that the
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), hosting the Regional
Seas Secretariat, has its headquarters in Nairobi or even the fact
that the most recent Peace Nobel Prize went to Kenyan
environmentalist Prof. Wangari Mathai, who is the Assistant
Minister of Environment and has been fully briefed about the
malpractices at the Kenya coast, seem not (yet?) to help much at
the battlegrounds along the Indian Ocean beaches of Kenya.
PEOPLE STAND FIRM AGAINST TRAWLING AND RING-NETTING
fishermen had sacrificed their fishing grounds to allow the
formation of Malindi Marine Park and Reserve without any share of
the revenue generated from these marine conservation areas, which
are visited by hundred-thousands of people from all over the world
every year. The same fishermen have had their fishing grounds
invaded by shrimp trawlers that are impacting negatively on their
livelihood. Now the fisheries officials of Kenya and their friends
in the commercial fishing industries are imposing Ring-Net Fishery
and further impoverish the already poor artisanal fishermen, while
the industrial fishing operators repeatedly even violate the
conservation laws by operating far into all the protected zones.
worst point is that with the continuation of trawling and
ring-netting close to the reefs not only the marine ecosystem is
seriously damaged, but that the present Kenya Government of the
National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) violates its own poverty
eradication policy, with which it won the 2002 election: In a
country like Kenya, which has a substantial number of local
communities, who traditionally live off the sea and get their
meagre income from artisanal fisheries, the engagement of
governmental officials in shady permissions and deals with fishing
industries from the region or abroad has a sad history but remains
simply stealing the daily bred from the poorest of the poor.
ARE COMING TRUE?
the web of intriguing connections roots even more far away: Though
the minister himself declared in the local press that the
government would have no knowledge of any deal involving a South
African company and stated that a proposal to take over all
fisheries in Lake Victoria as well as all the marine fisheries
would not have reached his desk yet, insiders know that the
proposed deal is for real: The South African company RED ICON,
known in Kenya actually only from cyber-deals, had written already
on 22nd October 2004 directly to Minister Munyao. The group’s
director and signatory, a Mr. Wathe Walsh, requested with this
letter the approval of the project, which obviously must have been
discussed in detail earlier. Copies of this request apparently had
been sent also to the Finance, Roads, Planning, Trade and last but
not least the Environment Minister. In a country like Kenya, where
already plans were made to sell off all the National Parks to
private developers, nobody wonders about such proposals, but the
kind of bidders come more and more from rather strange quarters.
MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX TO TAKE OVER KENYAN WATERS?
Icon is a group of businesses that focuses on providing managed
services to business solutions using smart card technology while
Red Icon Advanced Systems focuses purely within the defence
industry. Red Icon offers government and state entity
licensing solutions, particularly in the field of personal
identification (national id, driver's licenses, gun licenses,
fishing licenses) even using biometric identification. Red Icon
therefore is a company preying on big-brother-business and has no
own expertise in the fishing or marine environment sector. But the
group has a close link with the South African Institute for
Maritime Technology, which specializes in technological research
and development and tries to provide strategic techno-military
support, products and services to the South African Navy. This
company consists of two business units: While Maritech supplies
Special Forces with technical support focusing on underwater
products and systems, their branch "New Ventures" tries
to utilize opportunities outside the South African Department of
Defence. This is where Kenya fisheries is said to have come into
the crosshairs of their rather blurred target-scope.
other strategic alliance of Red Icon is Irvin & Johnson
(I&J), which is one of the larger food brands in South Africa
and part of the Anglovaal Industries (AVI) group of companies.
With headquarters in Cape Town, I&J claims to have offices,
factories, fishing fleets, branches and subsidiaries in South
Africa as well as representatives in Australia and the Pacific Rim,
the United States, Europe and Africa.
envisaged deal seems to create a win-win situation for Kenya's
Fishing Minister: Let RED ICON do the "licensing" and
I&J the exploitation and the processing as well as the
marketing of all the fisheries in Kenya - then the Ministry would
have no more work or hassle and just could rip off the money.
Crucial questions if the traditional fishermen would give up their
rights and would agree to become bio-chipped slave-workers for the
South-African military-industrial complex or whether the Kenyan
minister still has a duty to develop own human resources and
facilities in the fisheries sector seem not to come to the
was for Mr. Raila Odinga, the roads and public works minister and
shadow president for western Kenya, to make it clear that the
waters and fishes of Lake Victoria are not up for grabs and that
also the agreements of the East African Community would stand
against any such sell-off. For Lake Victoria the clandestine deal
seems to be downed, but who comes to the rescue of the artisanal
fishermen along Kenya's coast is not yet clear. The Red Icon saga,
however, seems to be more than just a red herring and Kenyans are
advised to look into countries like Tanzania to realize what havoc
South-African companies, who had been given carte blance, can
create in various sectors, not only in mining and so called
security. Though security issues must be observed along this
coast and the involvement of trawlers and other ships in the
recently busted mega-haul of cocain in Malindi, which was the
largest ever in Africa, still is under investigation, such
incidences do not justify that the Kenyan State just leases out
the job to care for even this responsibility.
by an overly eager security agenda imposed by the United States of
North-America, the Kenya Government is eager to show its
commitment and to impose all kinds of big-brother tools on the
Kenyan people - a biometric ID-chip for all who ply the coastal
waters not necessarily being excluded from their fantasies, since
Kenya is already the only country in the world which imposed a
smart-card on the visitors of their National Parks. This chip-card,
which contains personal data, was also imposed with the argument
of better revenue-collection, but the system has so far not
contributed to the improved sharing of income with the local
communities bordering wildlife areas and only made its system
local fishermen know very well that false promises involving
revenue sharing etc. from industrial fishing never materializes in
Kenya. This is also why already 19 of the 22 Beach Management
Units (which are the management units for gazetted beach landing
sites of the fishing co-operative societies) with over 3,000
artisanal fishermen from Malindi, Ngomeni, Mayungu and Watamu
refused the local bribing attempts and have signed on 21st of
January 2005 a joined statement against the industrial
ring-netting and trawling.
Zackary Mogaka Mabeya, the District Commissioner of Malindi, a
beach resort and world famous holiday resort and destination of
international deep-sea-anglers, which has to curb social unrest
also in order to not affect its tourism business, therefore banned
ring-netting. The DC also had to find out that one had clearly
tried to mislead him. The appearance and subsequent de-masking of
a so called fisheries consultant, a Mr. George Habib, who claimed
to have once worked also for the Food and Agriculture Organization
of the United Nations (FAO), infamous for too often sidelining
with the fishing industries, was brought in by the ring-netter
Fayaz and falsely presented as governmental consultant to promote
ring-nets. Such didn't go down well with the local fishermen and
the officials, the ring-net ban finally was imposed by the DC and
Khyser Fayaz, however, defied the ban. He operates besides Fayaz
Bakery Ltd., whose canter-lorries ferried the fish from Malindi to
Mombasa, and some small hotels, two ring-net fishing vessels, for
whom he had under der company name Soko Dogo Ltd. a special
ring-net licence in 2004. He continued after the ban with the then
illegal activity right in front of the Malindi coast and under the
noses of the DC, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), who is supposed
to guard the Marine Reserve, and last but not least the District
Fisheries Office, Mr. N.M. Nthekethea, who also does not want to
see the illegal beach seine nets, which are floating right in
front of his offices and within the marine reserve.
due to the pro-active intervention by specialists from the Malindi
Marine Association (MAMA http://www.mamasea.org) who
assisted, guided and physically brought the local police officers
to the scene, as well as with the help of a private speed boat,
the ring-netters were arrested. While Kenya Wildlife Service had
refused any help in that operation and the District Fisheries
Officer not even had a boat, police and the local community
brought the culprits in. The judge from the Malindi court
established that they had been breaking the ban on ring-net
fishing and that most of the people employed by the ring-netter
Fayaz were not even Kenyans. However, because neither the Ministry
of Fisheries officials nor the KWS had assisted with the drawing
of the charge sheet, only the 8 Tanzanians were convicted for
working illegally in Kenya and immediately deported. The one
Kenyan arrested got away because the illegal fishing charge was
not seconded by Fisheries, who simply didn't appear to the court
hearing. Why Kenya Wildlife Service looked the other way in this
case is also not clear, but while local people speculate that they
too might be in on the take others claim to know that the officers
simply lost any motivation to defend their entrusted biosphere,
because KWS had recently seen too many changes in its leadership
and too little support went to the men up front. Certainly this is
an issue the newly appointed Board of Directors of the KWS has to
look into, if they are not too busy with preparing the 300 wild
animals, including 20 lions, the Kenyan Government recently
promised as donation from their National Parks for a Thailand zoo
- an issue, which still causes international outrage.
make the size of the marine exploitation more clear: While an
artisanal fisherman in Malindi after a night out in his canoe
comes back with an average of 5-8 kg of fish for his family or the
local market, in October last year a ring-net fishing boat with
about 30 fishermen on board capsized due to overloading at Mayungu
with a catch of about 15,000 kg of fish. All the fish went to
waste and the crew's lives were seriously endangered.
those who know Kenya also know that where there is big money
involved the defence lines never stand for long without renewed
attack. Immediately after the court had prosecuted the illegal
ring-netters, the "friends of the fishing industry", as
one might term them, re-appeared. The honourable Minister Joseph
Konzollo Munyao himself, who recently made headlines when he tried
unsuccessfully to get the factory of the Kenya Meat Commission
into his hands and had engaged a small private army to do so,
headed to Malindi to hold a closed door meeting with the senior
officials involved, while outside the offices the local fishermen
protested, demonstrators carried placards against the ring-netters
and numerous voices were heard demanding the Minister to step
down. The minister, however, promised at the end of the meeting to
issue within two weeks a notice on ring-net fishing. The time for
that notice has expired and it is still outstanding.
Kenya in terms of corruption still ranks very high (which is
actually very low with respect to combating corruption) on the
index of Transparency International (TI) and it is common
knowledge that much money changes hands in any such
nature-exploitation deal, it is hoped that now, since also the
Kenya Anti-Corruption Unit has finally started to work and with
Permanent Secretary John Githongo the President of Kenya, H.E.
Kibaki, has a stout defender of ethics and good governance in his
office, the hawk-eyes look closer into the fisheries sector. The
tide of corruption as well as the senseless, cruel and unsocial
exploitation of the seas in Kenya and the region must be stopped!
also rests with the consumers. Since years Kenya was used to sell
to rich Nairobians and to export illegally fish, shrimps, octopus
and lobster from Somalia in addition to the catch from its own
coast. Since there is now a new government in place for Somalia
and the Somalis regularly arrest the illegal or disputed fishing
vessels, the supplies and proceeds from these pirate operations
are dwindling, which is why pressure on the local fisheries'
resources in Kenya and Tanzania enhances.
fishing as last resort to get the remaining fishes has shown its
ugly face already again in the Tanzanian waters, despite the hefty
fines for the practice. Even at Kigombe and Tanga, where just
recently the living fossil from the deep - the fish Coelacanths -
was discovered, the dynamite blasts destroy the remaining marine
Just like yesterday, this morning (26.01.2005) three huge blasts
were noted by marine observers around 11h00 EAT at Kigombe-Karange
island. But while in other areas every tyre-burst slams the
anti-terrorism-squads into gear, who cares about blasts at the
reef or theoretical fines, if the courts don’t convict?
The local Fisheries Officer at Kigombe certainly does not and only
a few local hotels have refused so far to buy the blasted fish.
now is closed season (15. Nov. - 15. Feb.) for the shrimps off the
coast of Malindi but the fine ladies in Nairobi who buy the frozen
crustaceans or also the neatly packed "baby-squids" e.g.
from Alpha Ltd. simply don't know and they don't care that the
vessels Alpha Manyara and Andrea (Basta), are fishing not only off
the coast near Malindi for tuna but often enough are observed
inside the closed 3 or 5 miles zones, while no fisheries officer
or other observer is on board. Or who cares when the formerly
Russian ships Horizon I and II, named today Roberto and Helena
respectively and operated by Basta & Sons come back from
Somalia to Mombasa and claim that they just took the catch over
from the ships Andrea and Venture, which actually can present
Kenyan fishing licences, thereby also falsifying any data of the
catch-log concerning Kenyan waters. Hardly anybody cares, since
the catch as well as the by-catch from all these vacuum-cleaning
operations goes anyway uncontrolled into the consumer pipeline
with its growing demand and the loot ends on the plates of
ambassadors in Kenya’s capital, on the laps of oil-barons in the
Emirates, in European Supermarkets or as chicken food in our
since several years to find a responsible Kenyan marine fishing
company, which adheres to ECOTERRA's (http://www.ecoterra.org.uk)
strict environmental and social conditions concerning responsible
and sustainable fishing, but besides paying mere lip-service so
far none of the commercial operators has complied and it seems
that the cartel of industrial fishing companies does not want to
give in an inch. Reason enough for a sound government to step in,
since also Kenya's Seafarers Assistance Programme identifies all
the Kenyan and foreign flagged fishing vessels operating in the
region as sub-standard with respect to marine safety and working
conditions. It seems that the whole sector is intentionally ruined
and earmarked to go down the drain – maybe in order to have one
more argument to sell it off – as an easy catch for the
red-icons from South-Africa?
usually is also not seen by the holiday-makers in Malindi, be it
tourists from abroad or local ministers, is the vast destruction
of the coastlands north of Malindi by salt-works, which already
altered the coastal dynamics to that extent that a whole lodge was
taken by the sea, the Kenya Navy Base had to be transferred to
higher grounds and the management of the space-observatory is
endangered. This all is just man-made destruction and the guilt
can not be blamed on sea-rise due to global warming or any
disaster like a Tsunami. It happens because people cause it, while
in Malindi’s hinterland the last forests are illegally plundered
of hardwood to be sold as “Fine Italian Furniture” to rich
Europeans or as charcoal to cook the poor folk’s food as well as
to fuel the rich man’s barbecue.
is more obvious to the eye is the red silt right in front of
Malindi which makes the waters look diseased but which actually
stems from unwise agricultural practices and the soil erosion
caused along the Sabaki River, which reaches the sea just north of
Malindi and during the peak holiday season - when the current
flows southwards - stains Malindi’s coastal waters bloody red.
Good breading ground for the shrimps some might say. Yes, but only
if there are some shrimps and quiet mangrove zones left by the
scoopers. Otherwise this load of inland soil just contributes to
the insiltation of the coral reef and its death.
recent Asian Tsunami which wiped away the many illegal
shrimp-farms, who had destroyed the natural coastal ecosystems, as
well as their unprotected hinterland in South-East-Asia must be a
warning to the coastal states in the Western Indian Ocean too. It
once more showed that dense mangrove forests and intact, living
reefs are the best coastal protection.
AND GOVERNMENT TO ACT
produces about 180,000 tonnes of fish and fishery products per
year valued over US$ 90 million and more than 120,000 tonnes (around
70 per cent) of the total annual catch goes to the export-based
fish processing industries, of which the Nile perch fillets from
Lake Victoria constitute over 80 per cent of the exports. While
the European Union as largest buyer with its import regulations
and the competition with neighbouring countries Tanzania and
Uganda safeguard at least some regulations concerning the Lake
Victoria fishing and the processing standards, the seafood fishing
and production runs more or less in Wild-West manners. Minister
Joseph Konzollo Munyao slaps his own government into the face, since he not only
tolerates but actually licenses fishing methods contrary to the
laws of Kenya. The Fisheries Act lists shrimp trawling
within 5 nautical miles clearly as a prohibited fishing method.
Any changes to the law would first have to be ratified by
parliament. But Minister Joseph Konzollo Munyao and his fishing friends seem to be
above the laws of the land.
the new environment bill was enacted, the National Environmental
Management Authority (NEMA) for Kenya demands Environmental Impact
Assessments (EIA) for all kinds of ventures and recently started
to even request such from poor small-scale-farmers and out-growers
who can not even pay the fees. But in the industrial marine
fisheries sector of Kenya EIAs are unheard of and have so far
neither been requested nor conducted. The environment bill,
however, opens now another possibility for Kenyan citizens, who
are concerned about environmental destruction: They have the right
to sue the state, even if they are not affected directly, and it
is expected that the first such cases in the marine sector will
come up soon, which is certainly a better way to re-establish
respect for the rights of the artisanal fishermen and the coastal
communities than endless meetings and workshops with people who
simply want to continue bad business as usual.
far it must be concluded that the Kenya Government has failed
miserably to take its oversight and regulatory functions
concerning the ocean fisheries serious. It is therefore also high
time that the Southwest Indian Ocean Fisheries Commission, whose
establishment under FAO guidance has now been dragging on for
years, is finalized and strict regulations against the
over-fishing are implemented. While present practice is like a cat
and mouse game, where conscientious citizens and officials
likewise have to run after the industrial scoopers to proof their
wrongdoing, the fishing industry just sits back and says: “Proof
it!” – while, if detrimental actions are proven, usually no
prosecution follows. The Kenya Government therefore must turn this
around, place the burden of proof on the exploiters and make sure
the Chief Justice, Attorney General and the Director of Public
Prosecution are doing their job.
resource utilization and Fair Trade still are just buzzwords for
the Kenyan natural resources sector and unless the NARC Government
starts to open its eyes, ears and hearts to the local people who
daily witness the plunder or due to economic hardship even take
part in it and to seriously enforce the protection of the marine
as well as the terrestrial resources, all consumers of marine
products deriving from Kenya must know that they are part and
parcel of the destruction of the coastal ecosystems along the
whole western Indian Ocean coastline.
the term sustainability often enough is wrongly understood as the
task to maintain the sustainability of growing lifestyles of the
upper one percent of the socio-economic strata, we have to realize
that what actually must be applied is the core of niche-ecology,
which teaches that any species can only live on the actual surplus
of the gross natural production, which is not required by other
species of the system for their survival. This is how the dynamic
balance and stability is achieved in intact ecosystems. Applying
this to the Kenyan marine ecosystem simply means that a total stop
and a moratorium on all marine industrial fishing has to be put in
place in Kenya right now, if there shall anything be rescued for
this and the next generation of Kenyan local fishermen.
though it has been common in Kenya to kill (in real terms) the
messenger rather than to listen to the message or to overcome the
reported malpractices, there is a chance that the new Kenya
Government this time will actually do something about the causes
and problems, simply because the Kenyan messengers have become too
numerous to kill and too knowledgeable and outspoken to quieten
2005 WTN / ECOP-marine with additional reporting from Malindi,
Mombasa, Tanga and Cape Town
Who Owns the Kenya Coast?
Associated Livelihoods and the Constraints to their
Development in Kenya and Tanzania
STATUS OF CORAL REEFS IN EAST AFRICA 2004:
KENYA, TANZANIA, MOZAMBIQUE AND SOUTH AFRICA
Marine Science Country
Profiles - Kenya
Miners of salt get
By MSHENGA MWACHARO
Environment Management Authority (NEMA) has warned salt harvesting
firms in Malindi against contaminating water resources.
NEMA director general
Prof Ratemo Michieka said the Authority was aware that some salt
firms were using non-environmental friendly salt harvesting
procedures that were contaminating fresh water reservoirs.
"We have received
numerous complaints from members of the public regarding pollution
of water in the area and we are taking action," said Prof
The NEMA boss added
that the Authority had already written to concerned firms, warning
them to either stop harvesting salt or to modify their operations.
involved in the mining should be mindful of not only the community
around but also the environment," he said.
Noting that water was
a very vital commodity to the community, Prof Michieka said NEMA
would not allow pollution of natural water reservoirs to go on
The NEMA director
general, who was addressing participants at a workshop on coastal
resources management held at the Mombasa Beach Hotel, was
responding to complaints by Gongoni residents.
February 04, 2005
Perch fish shortage affects export to EU
04 Feb 2005
An acute shortage of
catfish has hit Lake Victoria.
Environment Management Programme (LVEMP) project co-ordinator,
Susan Imende, said yesterday the shortage is affecting export of
Nile Perch to the European Union (EU).
The catfish is used as
bait to catch Nile Perch.
The Western Kenya
Assistant Director of Fisheries, Mr Okumu Mak’Ogola, said fish
exports to EU earn the country over Sh4 billion.
However, over 55,000
fishermen had been experiencing difficulties catching Nile Perch
Imende said the
shortage is due to breeding problems in the lake.
She said catfish are
secretive and breed in muddy sections of river banks, adding that
massive cultivation along the banks and deforestation had
interfered with the breeding.
She said LVEMP has
embarked on a catfish-breeding project at Sitecko wetland in Busia.
Imende said they use
test tubes to breed the catfish in special ponds.
Last week, 11
Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture members led by Franklin
toured the project.
Imende asked the
fisheries personnel and marine police to intensify patrols around
banks of key rivers.
February 18, 2005
By WALKER MWANDOTO
The government is
concerned about trawling along the Indian Ocean shoreline,
Vice-President Moody Awori says.
The VP said the
government was aware that trawling denied local fishermen a source
of livelihood and it was in the process of formulating a policy
that would protect their interests.
Mr Awori was speaking
when he launched the Bahari Constituency Strategic Plan for
Development for 2005/2007 at Mnarani Club in Kilifi town.
As a matter of
priority, Mr Awori advised the Bahari Constituency Development
Fund Committees to consider funding local fishermen to purchase
bigger boats and modern fishing gear so that they could venture
into the deep seas.
The VP called on the
local fishermen to form co-operative societies that would enable
them to secure loans to improve their fishing activities.
However, Mr Awori
warned that over-fishing along the coastal waters could be
destructive to the fragile marine eco-system.
Bahari MP Joe Khamis
complained that trawlers were operating within the restricted five
nautical miles off the coastline. He said this was behind the
decline in the fish stock in Kilifi.
"The coral reef
is also threatened by heavy erosion because of the destruction
caused by the trawlers, where fishing methods killed even small
fish which they then dumped into the sea," he said.
The local fishermen
and marine conservation volunteers in both Kilifi and Malindi
districts have often criticised the government for failing to stop
foreign trawlers from fishing close to the coastline.
March 12, 2005
Three trawlers (Alpha
Manyara. Amboseli and Serengeti) were trawling around Jamba Kavu /
Fungwa yuu (about 6 Nautical miles off Malindi Marine Park)
between February 10th and 17th February
2005. During the same time 14 dead turtles were washed ashore
between Malindi south and Sabaki.
With the prawn
trawling season coming closer, conservationists, artisanal
fishermen, sports fishermen and diving clubs are getting worried
on the negative effects of prawn trawling and the large scale
killing of juvenile fish along with destruction of fish nests. All
cries in the past have been in vain creating suspicion of high
level support and cover up.
The trawlers are
seemingly above the law as they violate the Fisheries Act by
trawling below 5 nautical miles. The Asst Director of Fisheries
(Coast) Mr G. V. Monor has continually issued licenses for prawn
trawling below 5 nautical miles contrary to the Fisheries Act.
Refer to Part IV of the Fisheries Act Page 32 “trawling
is a prohibited fishing method within 5 nautical miles of the
coast of Kenya. Within the territorial waters of Kenya described
under the maritime Zones Act”. Any changes to the law must
be ratified by parliament. Then how can the Fisheries Department
License prawn trawling between 3 to 5 nautical miles before the 5
nautical mile limit has been ratified in parliament?.
prawn-trawling license expired on June 9, 2004, the so called
“scientific committee” that is over represented by trawler
operators hurriedly approved an extension of prawn trawling for
one more year without consulting stakeholders. Stakeholders feel
cheated by the hijacking of the long awaited stakeholders meeting
and by the unilateral decision to extend prawn trawling. All these
events are not by coincidence but deliberately planned to favor
the exploitation of prawns by commercial prawn trawlers under
cover of research. Why license 5 prawn trawlers to conduct
research that could be done by one trawler?. The destruction of
prawn trawling has been confirmed world wide and the Fisheries
Department does not have to reinvent the wheel on prawn trawling
research that is conducted by prawn trawler operators instead of
KEMFRI. Prawn trawling lacks support of the local fishermen
including 19 Beach Mangement Units (BMU’s) out of 22 BMU’s.
The challenge goes to Fisheries Department to call a stakeholders
meeting to prove this.
The licensing of
prawn trawling has been done without an Environmental Impact
Assessment and without involvement of a national marine
research body (Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute –
KEMFRI) as required by law. Please refer to Cap 378 Page 82 Part V
Fisheries Scientific research (37. 1). “No marine fisheries
research shall be conducted in the maritime zones of Kenya without
the express consent of and subject to conditions imposed by the
Kenyan Scientific Authority and without a permit by the Director”.
Department in conjunction with prawn trawler operators taken over
the research mandate from KEMFRI or is it the use of thorax to
favor the rich trawlers?.
The unlimited support
to prawn trawlers extended by the Fisheries Department has
contributed to the neglect of community concerns, environmental
concerns and deliberate refusal by trawler operators to attend
meetings at the District level. In the past the trawler operators
have continually given false promises that have been minuted in
meetings, only to buy time and eventually getting a go ahead from
higher offices in the Fisheries Department. No doubt the trawler
operators are special to the Department of Fisheries and are
seemingly above the law. A full scale investigation could reveal
the level of compromise and possible high level connection.
One of the most notorious scoopers: The trawler Alpha Manyara, who seems to be under the special protection of the Minister of Livestock and Fisheries Development, Mr. Munyao, himself. (Pictures & Collage: RO)
August 11, 2005
OVER OIL SPILL THREAT
Somalia and Kenya Coastwatch in full alert conc. sub-standard
tanker now on the way to Mombasa / Kenya while consumers in Kenya
are up in arms against petroleum companies who increase fuel
Mombasa / Kenya - 11. 08. 2005 - WTN - The oil tanker MT Gernmar
Commander is currently on its way along the Western-Indian Ocean
coasts of Somalia. Two days ago it had been refused entry into the
waters of coastal states in the Gulf Region, most likely because
the technical standard and the integrity of the vessel is in
question and the vessel has a very poor inspection status. It is,
however, also not clear yet if the crude oil it carries is not
OIL TANKER A GREAT DANGER
The vessel has failed to comply with the internationally
prescribed standards for oil tankers, especially because it is a
single hull tanker, which compromises the safety standards of the
International Maritime Organization (IMO) - prescribing a
double-hull for oil transports - and is creating a real danger of
accidental oil spills, which would have a devastating effect on
the marine life, property and lifelihoods of the fishing
communities of the coastal states along its route.
After the ship had been refused entry into the waters of the UAE,
it is surprising to hear that it is actually on its way to
Kilindini harbour of Mombasa in Kenya. The vessel is carrying
82,795 metric tonnes of crude oil, which now shall be discharged
at Mombasa Oil Terminal. At present somewhere along the Somali
coast, the ship instructed by its agent Sturrock Shipping Ltd. is
scheduled to arrive at Mombasa on 13. August 2005 at 06h00 in the
morning. The oil cargo is said to belong at present to KOBIL Ltd.,
an International and Multinational Private petroleum products
company with close links to the Kenyan opposition-politician and
entrepreneur Nicolas Biwott and a group of Israeli businessmen.
Together with KENOL Ltd. it is managed by Jacob I. Segman. He
markets also motor oils from Castrol, a company, which claims on
its website it would care for the environment. Their statement:
"We are committed to
comply with environmental laws and regulatory standards on a
worldwide basis!", however, seem not ever to have reached the
ears of the KOBIL management, otherwise they would not engage in
transporting their oil in single-hull tankers. Also the last
oil-spill in April in Mombasa was caused by oil belonging to Kobil
and was carried by a single-hull tanker. The MT Ratna
Shahil spilled at least 5 million litres of crude oil at
Warned about the potential hazard of this vessel, the Kenya
authorities in a quickly assembled "stakeholders"-meeting,
where only governmental officials and industry players were
present, so far have only declared that the government would
refuse responsibility, if anything happens, but no order has been
given to turn that vessel away from Kenya waters. The
International Safety Management Code, 1997, requires the
establishment of a national oil spill response contingency plan
and the treaty facilitates the vetting of vessels that call at any
port to determine their safety standards.
This serious situation - provoking a potentially catastrophic
event of marine and coastal pollution - comes during a stand-off
between the petrol companies and the Kenya Government. At present
the oil cartels operating in Kenya, citing as reason a tax dispute
with the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), try jointly very hard to
create an artificial fuel shortage in order to re-gain the
tax-advantages, to push the retail prices for refinery products
higher and higher as well as to break the top price sealing
advised by the Ministry of Energy.
This struggle caused a very critical situation whereby the storage
tanks of Kenya's sole refinery are full to the brim and the crude
oil storage at the terminal are likewise filling up, while petrol
stations in Western Kenya are already running dry.
Kenya Petroleum Refineries General Manager Chris House therefore
had to announce today that if the petroleum products will not be
flowing from his storage into the distribution networks
immediately, he will have to close down production within the
coming five days. This would be the case, if the mineral oil
companies and the government would remain at loggerheads.
Meanwhile in the whole country a serious fuel shortage has been
created by the oil companies.
Kenya's Energy Minister, Hon. Simeon Nyachae therefore announced
today that he would revoke the licenses of those mineral oil
companies, who do not lower the artificially increased prices and
resume full delivery immediately. The prices at the Kenyan petrol
stations actually should have fallen, because the Kenya Shilling
stands stronger to the Dollar and Kenya does not face any problem
in the supply of crude from low price sources.
While Kenya Oil Company Limited - Kenol - was established in 1959,
is a public company quoted at the Nairobi Stock Exchange Kobil
Petroleum Limited is a private company established in 1984. The
two companies, however, have operated under a joint management
agreement since 1985. Kenol and Kobil have an elaborate retail
network in Kenya, with over 180 service stations. The two
companies are strong players in the market, commanding a market
share of over 20%. On 25 May 2005 Kenol
announced a 44 per cent increase in pre-tax profit in its interim
half year results for the six months ended March 31, 2005 over the
same period ended March 31, 2004.
"The 3 Shilling increase is based on exploitation!",
Minister Nyachae declared.
If all the storage tanks are full to the brim and consumer prices
only artificially been exaggerated, why then is the Kenya
Government taking the risk to allow a single hull oil tanker into
its waters, many Kenyans ask, in whose memory the occurrence
of the last oil spill in April 2005 caused by the Indian Oil
tanker MT Ratna Shalin at the Mombasa port is still fresh. But not
even the official incident report for this latest oil spill has
been released. Many organizations demand to know the extent of
environmental and property damage occasioned by that particular
spill, which could not be contained, though it occurred just in
the harbour and in front of those who are supposed to handle such
a spill. It is surprising that until now the Kenya National
Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) has not even issued the
assessment report while it is claimed that the extent of damage
was much more than the 1 million US$ compensation estimated by the
Kenya just recently
declared its full authority over the 200 nautical miles Exclusive
Economic Zone (EEZ) of its waters. It would therefore be necessary
for all the concerned Kenyan authorities to put the required
contingency measures in place to ensure rapid response in case an
accident and an oil spill occur, when MT Gernmar Commander would
be allowed entry. But Kenya lacks of a response mechanism and
equipment, which could handle an oil catastrophe caused by a
breaking single hull tanker of that size.
TURN AWAY THAT TANKER
The Kenyan Seafarers
Assistance Program together with environmental organizations
therefore called today on the Government to involve all the
stakeholders and particularly the fishing communities, community
based organizations and civil society organizations in the
decision making process concerning such cases and demand to turn
this tanker away from Kenyan waters.
BOYCOTT KENOL / KOBIL
"Until that grave
danger to the marine and coastal environment and serious threat to
the livelihoods of the coastal people in form of a single hull
vessel with over 80.000 tonnes of hazardous crude oil is not
turned away from Kenya and until KOBIL Ltd. is one of those
companies, which have increased their prices at the pumps
exorbitantly and unjustified, environmental, marine and other
civil society groups will start from tomorrow to call for a
boycott of KENOL / KOBIL as serious means to demand environmental
safety and to turn the tanker away from Kenya as well as a first
step in support of the public's and the minister's demands to
immediately reduce the costs of fuel, while resuming distribution
immediately.", was declared today in Nairobi, Mombasa and
August 14, 2005
Oil ship docks
East African Standard
Sunday August 14, 2005
Philip Mwakio and Willis Oketch
single-hull oil tanker carrying 82,795 metric tonnes of crude oil
docked at the port of Mombasa yesterday morning.
said the MT Gernmar Commander had been warned to keep off
the Gulf region ports over a ban by the International Maritime
Organisation (IMO), which has barred all single hulls transporting
oil tankers have no inner lining enforcement on their tanks to
cushion against puncturing, which results in oil spillage.
giant oil tanker arrived during the dawn high tide, at 7.45am and
docked at the Kipevu oil terminal.
maritime sources confirmed that the vessel was registered in
Monrovia, Liberia, but said its owners had not been declared in
any of the documents available.
vessel’s local agent is Sturrock Shipping Limited, according to
a 14-day shipping list of port activities released by the Kenya
Ports Authority (KPA). Ecoterra International, a global society on
ecology and sound economy, said the oil cargo belonged to a Kenyan
sources, who have been monitoring the ship in the past week, say
oil was suspected to be from ‘rogue ports’ in Iraq, which are
capable of loading in disregard of international bans. Sources
said although the ship was not destined to stop at any port in the
United Arab Emirates or the Gulf region, it was given a warning
whenever it passed not to get into their ports’ jurisdiction
since its category of transport had been outlawed.
maritime sources said, had issued an alert over the vessel’s
arrival at Kilindini port before it started approaching Mombasa.
Ecoterra said the vessel’s arrival comes at a time when a
stand-off between petroleum companies and the Government over a
new tax directive has caused a fuel shortage, which might have
given the importer an excuse to defy the ban.
the Seafarers Assistance Programme (SAP), Kenya Chapter, yesterday
renewed its call on the Government to stop the vessel from
off-loading its cargo in Mombasa. The SAP co-ordinator, Mr Andrew
Mwangura, told The Sunday Standard the Government had not
made a decision on the matter.
an email alert, Ecoterra International says the vessel had been
denied entry in the Gulf Region because of its technical standards.
vessel has a very poor inspection status and it remains baffling
if the crude oil it carries is up to standard,’’ the report by
chief harbour master Twalib Khamisi said the port’s management
was consulting with the Kenya Maritime Authority before acting.
April 7, an Indian owned tanker, Mt. Ratna Shahill, a single-hull
vessel, also chartered by the same local petroleum company,
spilled about five million litres of crude oil into the expansive
Port Reitz creek at Kilindini harbour.
ship, which was carrying 78,000 metric tonnes of oil, had one of
its tanks punctured. At least 5,000 tonnes were estimated to have
drifted afloat, causing extensive damage to marine life on a
peninsular off the port and killing hundreds of mangrove trees.
||The MT Gernmar Commander after it docked at the Mombasa Port yesterday. Sources said the single-hull oil tanker carrying 82,795 metric tonnes of crude oil had been warned to keep off the Gulf
Pic by Maarufu Mohammed
film sparks protest
Story by JOHN OYWA
Publication Date: 12/14/2005
documentary film that likens Lake Victoria's fishing industry to
the slave trade and colonialism has sparked protests by
international conservation organisations.
The Lake Victoria
Fisheries Organisation and the International Union for the
Conservation of Nature have launched a campaign to withdraw Darwin's
Nightmare, arguing that it is inaccurate and wrongly depicts
an industry that supports 40 million East Africans.
The 107-minute film,
which has won 16 awards in Europe and nominated for the
prestigious Oscar Award, describes the fisheries, especially the
Nile perch trade, as "an example of the deadliest humiliation
for the people of Africa."
The World Bank, the
European Union and the Swedish International Development Agency
have spent billions of dollars on conservation and socio-economic
projects around the lake.
Shot by Austrian
Hubert Sauper around the lake last year, Darwin's Nightmare
portrays the industry in the three East African countries as
"unhygienic" and "exploitative."
It says also that the
lucrative perch exports to Europe is like supplying weapons to
armed militias and civil warlords in the Great Lakes region.
But Mr Sauper, who
lives in France, is defiant and describes the film as a "a
striking reality." In a synopsis posted on his website, he
says the globalisation of African markets is the third and
deadliest humiliation for the people after the slave trade and
The lake region,
according to the film, remains a land of massive epidemics, food
shortages and civil wars despite the booming fish trade for
Europeans. "After hundreds of years of slavery and
colonisation of Africa, globalisation of the African markets is
the third and deadliest humiliation for the people of the
continent", he says.
Cargo planes ferrying
Lake Victoria's fish fillets to Europe return with weapons being
used in civil wars in eastern Democratic Congo and other Great
Lakes countries, he adds.
ex-Soviet cargo planes come daily to collect latest catches of
fish in exchange for their south-bound cargo – the Kalashnikovs
and ammunition for the uncounted wars in the dark centres of the
The documentary, shot
mainly on the Tanzanian shores of the lake, shows clips of filthy
beaches and impoverished fishermen.
But in a recent
harshly worded open letter to Mr Sauper, LVFO chief executive
Thomas Maembe and IUCN's Eastern Africa regional director, Dr
Alice Kaudia, dismiss it as "sensational work driven by greed
for quick sales."
They accuse the
filmmaker of concentrating on poverty and misery and ignoring
efforts already made by Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda and donors to
improve the fishermen's livelihood.
Lobby groups raise concerns over threat to turtle habitats
Story by MAZERA NDURYA
Publication Date: 4/10/2007
Marine conservationists have raised fresh concern over the alarming number of turtle deaths along the Kenyan coast.
Over the last two years, many dead sea turtles have been swept ashore on the Kenyan coastline. Conservationists attribute the deaths to bad fishing methods.
Project coordinator of the local Ocean Trust/Watamu Turtle Watch Steve Trott said the biggest threat was posed by trawling in shallow waters. The use of gill nets, jariffe nets and industrial long line fishing is also to blame.
“About 40 turtles are washed dead on Watamu Marine Park beach but international studies have shown those that are washed ashore represent just about 10 per cent of the total number.
“Most of them drown in fishing gear while most turtles sink to the seabed or are being taken far out to high seas by ocean currents,” he said.
Mr Trott said the death toll for Watamu only could be as high as 400 annually and was a very small fraction of cases along the entire Kenyan coastline.
Most of the dead turtles, the conservationists say, have their flippers cut off at the shoulder and severe lacerations around the neck, which are caused by large fishing nets.
The Kenya Sea Turtle Conservation Committee (Kescom), the organisation that looks into the welfare of sea creatures, says 85 per cent of the causes of deaths and threats to turtles are due to human activities.
Kescom coordinator Andrew Wamukota said, apart from bad fishing habits and poaching, there was great interference with turtle breeding areas.
“Despite the measures to protect them, consumption of turtles is still very high in some areas... Turtles are known to have high medicinal value,” he said.
He said that data available to researchers and conservationists did not reflect the overall true picture of the situation but said it was alarming.
Between 1998 and 2006, Mr Wamukota said over 200,000 eggs had been deposited for nesting on beaches but the record indicated that only 2,500 turtles had survived.
“Deaths and consumption might not be the only reason for the scenario because the turtles are migratory animals but the development along beaches has also contributed to the disappearance of these animals,” he said.
But fishermen on the other hand are saying they are not to blame because they have been very careful while fishing in habitats for turtles.
A fisherman in Malindi, Mr Ali Shaibu Shekue, said the Government was to blame for allowing trawlers to operate and developers to put up structures in the breeding areas.
“Turtles are very sensitive creatures and their disappearance is largely because human beings have encroached on their habitats and this has nothing to do with local fishermen,” he said.
Mr Shekue said the conservation methods used by international organisations were not compatible to the conditions at the coast, saying the problem could be addressed if local fishermen were actively involved.
Mr Wamukota said the fishermen had a strong case but said in the past, there was little human interference and the numbers of the turtles were still higher.
“What we want is the fishermen to join in the war to save them for posterity,” he said.
The conservationists are now asking the Fisheries Department to develop a comprehensive management plan for marine fisheries.
“The Government has to regulate the number of commercial and industrial fishing vessels operating in Kenyan waters. It should also enforce international rules that force trawlers to carry Turtle Excluder Devices in their nets,” said Mr Trott.
The devices function as an escape door at the back of the nets, allowing the turtle to free itself after being caught.
A status report on trawling in Malindi–Ungwana Bay prepared by the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute in 2002 shows that complaints of declining stocks and environment degradation as a result of such type of fishing had been raised far much earlier.
The report suggested measures to minimise socio-economic problems associated with resource use as local fishermen raised concern over fishing gear destruction.
Similar concerns had been raised by environmentalists that prawn trawling activities were causing increased mortality for sea
Mixed fortunes as ban on trawling stays in force
Story by MAZERA NDURYA
Nearly a year after the Government imposed a ban on trawling in the Indian Ocean, the fishing industry is experiencing mixed fortunes.
Trawler owners who used to reap millions of shillings from prawn harvesting in the Malindi-Ungwana Bay are already feeling the pinch as their ships stay idle.
Local fishermen and dealers have been lobbying the Government to review the ban fearing the collapse of their businesses.
The companies have resorted to importing fish for the local market after laying off workers.
Although the ban was initially intended to safeguard the environment and increase fish stocks, a survey showed that most areas in the region have been experiencing a shortage of fish.
The fisheries department has confirmed this, saying that the gap left by the trawlers is yet to been filled.
Local fishermen do not have the means to go beyond the reef, about five nautical miles, where there are abundant fish stocks, said an official of the department.
“The ban alone is not enough to look into the issue of trawlers. What is needed is a management plan that will not only control trawling but find ways of empowering the local fishermen to fully utilise the economic potential of the sea,” said the official.
One of the companies that has been affected by the ban, said it was importing between 10 to 15 containers with more than 200 tonnes of fish a month from Japan, China, Namibia and Oman.
Mr Satyajit Nath, the commercial general manager of marine company Alpha Group, said the demand for fish was still high and had been affected by the ban.
“(Our) vessels that were fishing for prawns, mainly for the export market, have become a burden to us as we have to pay the berthing charges, maintenance, insurance and keep a skeleton crew on board while we do not get anything in return,” he complained.
Be in business
Before the ban, the firm would harvest 10 tonnes of prawns for export and 45 tonnes of fish a month for the domestic market.
“For us, we have to be in business but while we lose in terms of wasted equipment, the Government too is losing because the dollars that the country used to earn through our exports are now going to importing fish,” said Mr Nath.
Environmental lobby groups and some fishermen, on the other hand, say the ban has had some positive impact on the marine ecosystem and should not be lifted until measures have been put in place to control trawling.
Some fishermen say the ban should be lifted while others say it should stay.
According to Kenya Marine Forum (KMF) officials, the short production cycle of prawns has shown signs of recovery following the ministerial ban.
A KMF coordinator for Kiunga zone in Lamu, Mr Ali Shebwana, however, noted that the fin fish production cycle had not fully recovered and called for the sustaining of the ban.
“The over 10 years of continuous prawn trawling in Malindi-Ungwana Bay area has damaged the marine ecosystems extensively, prompting the need to maintain the ban for full recovery of critical inshore habitats and for equitable resource distribution to small-scale fishers that are the majority,” he said in a statement to the Nation.
Mr Shebwana said fishermen from Kipini, Marereni, Ngomeni and Malindi had improved income from prawn and fish catches.
“Improved catches and supplies have pushed down the prices of certain species of prawns from Sh500 to Sh200 a kilo in the local market.
Small-scale fishers are now eyeing the export market for better prices. All these used to go to trawler owners but local fishermen can benefit if they are assisted financially to boost production,” he said.
Fisherman Ali Shaibu Shekue, however, claimed the move to have the ban lifted was being instigated by some Government officials who were the main beneficiaries of trawling.
“Research has already shown that trawling is detrimental to the marine environment and so far no measures have been taken to mitigate against such problems when the lid on trawling is lifted,” he said. Another fisherman, Mr Yusuf Abdulrazak, says that only small-scale traders are bearing the brunt of the ban.
“Not all fishermen pushed for the ban because people were benefiting from it and that is why we are collecting signatures from fishermen to have the Government reconsider its decision,” he said.
Assistant minister for Livestock and Fisheries Development Abu Chiaba said the ban was there to stay because research had shown that the system was detrimental to the marine ecosystem and was harming small-scale fishermen.
“We know that some people have been going round trying to convince local fishermen to sign a petition urging the Government to lift the ban but that will not work because we know the damage trawling has done and would do to the marine ecosystem.
“The Government has an obligation to safeguard the interests of the majority of Kenyans and not a few dealers who have been minting money that even the Government has not been fully benefiting from,” Mr Chiaba said.
But Seafarers Assistance Programme coordinator Andrew Mwangura said the problems facing the fishing industry were mainly caused by lack of a fisheries policy and an outdated Act.
“The trawlers whose activities were stopped,” he said, “were only those fishing for prawns, but there are hundreds of other vessels that fish in the deep sea and paying very little money to the Government in terms of revenue. The whole industry needs to be reorganised so that all the tonnage that these foreign vessels get from Kenyan waters can be ascertained and charged cess accordingly.
“Currently, they only pay a licence fee to the Government which is too small compared to the millions of shillings they rake in,” Mr Mwangura said.
The Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute chairman, Prof Shaukat Abdulrazak, said his organisation had not done research to determine the success of the ban.
Alarm Bells After
Death of Tens of Sea Turtles in a Month
The Nation (Nairobi)
12 February 2008
The killing of 28 sea turtles in less than a month on the Kenyan
coast has raised the alarm among conservationists.
Initial investigations portray a catastrophe of international
The deaths were not only the highest number recorded on the Kenyan
coast in less than a month but the biggest set-back to
According to data compiled by both the Kenya Wildlife Service
(KWS) and the Kenya Sea Turtle Conservation Committee (Kescom), 22
marine turtles have been killed at Vipingo and two at Kuruwitu
both in Kilifi, three at Diani in Kwale and one in Mombasa last
The sea turtles are endangered species protected under the
Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (Cites)
that prohibits commercial trade in the animal and its parts.
The programme coordinator of Kescom, Mr Andrew Wamukota, said
initial investigations into the matter had disclosed that all the
dead turtles had been caught in fishing nets.
This has raised queries on the monitoring of fishing activities in
the country as fishermen are supposed to comply not only with
local fishing regulations but also international ones.
Mr Wamukota said although the gill nets in which the turtles are
caught are not prohibited, fishermen were using them
"Some of the nets stretch up to long distances and are turned into
beach seines thereby resulting in them catching even turtles," he
He said following the alarming rate at which turtles had died at
the Kenyan coast there's need to review the licensing of gill nets
to prevent fishermen from using them unprofessionally.
Mr Wamukota said they were investigating the possible link of
fishermen from a neighbouring country in the scandal after two of
them were arrested fishing in Kenya's territorial waters using a
local fisherman's licence.
"The Fisheries Department is set to revoke the licence of the
local fisherman as a deterrent to those who are encouraging such
underhand fishing practices," he said.
Researches conducted by both the Fisheries Department and the
Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (Kemfri) show that
apart from the threats posed to turtles by artisanal fishermen,
trawling remains a big threat to the marine creatures.
Both studies reported a 70 per cent by-catch rate that includes
turtles by trawlers and it established that Turtle Excluder
Devices (TEDs) currently in use are not effective in the
protection of the animals from trawling activities.
The research shows that there were a total of 18 cases of
incidental capture of turtles in the trawl nets during the survey
The Current Status of Trawler Fishery of Malindi-Ungwana Bay
survey recommends the development of appropriate bycatch reducer
devices to curb incidental capture of young fish and turtles.
According to World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) the biggest threats
to turtle conservation come from dynamite fishing, indiscriminate
harvesting of eggs, conversion of the sandy areas where turtles
nest to resorts and other commercial activities.
Trade in turtle eggs has been a source of income for many fishing
communities not only on the Kenyan coast but throughout the entire
Indian Ocean region where most of them depend on coastal resources
The turtle egg is popular as a delicacy-with some believing it is
an aphrodisiac while its shell is considered a choice material for
decorative items among some coastal communities.
According to WWF, Southeast Asia is considered the world's biggest
consumer of turtle eggs with Hong Kong, Singapore and Brunei being
cited out as some of the leading markets.
Research has shown that although sea turtles have managed to
survive natural hazards over the years they are now under severe
threat from human activity.
It is because of these developments that the United Nations has
put in place concerted efforts to save the endangered species.
Conservationists in the country have consequently put in place a
number of initiatives aimed at creating awareness as part of the
global effort to protect the endangered sea creatures.
According to Mr Wamukota, there are more than 18 community-based
groups involved in different turtle conservation initiatives on
the Kenyan coast through the Kescom project.
Mr Wamukota said 25 countries under the Indian Ocean Southeast
Asian (IOSEA) region, which include Kenya, have signed a
memorandum of understanding for the protection of the sea turtles.
"Through this initiative we are expected to develop an integrated
sea turtles conservation framework for the Western Indian Ocean
region under the Nairobi convention," he said.
The Kescom official said human impacts contributed to more than 85
per cent of turtle deaths in the country.
"Of the seven known species of marine turtles in the world, five
are found in Kenya. They are loggerhead, leatherback, olive ridley,
hawksbill and green turtle. Three of them, the green, the
hawksbill and the olive ridley nest in Kenya while the others only
come to forage," he said.
Mr Wamukota said since 1997 more than 2,000 turtle nests have been
reported in Kenya resulting in more than 150,000 hatchings.
However, research has shown that out of 1,000 hatchings only one
turtle reaches maturity.
Sold by fishermen
He says although studies had shown more than 150,000 turtle eggs
have hatched along the Kenyan coast in the past 10 years many of
these ended up being sold by fishermen.
"And a belief among some Kenyan communities that if you take
turtle oil you will get cured of asthma has also greatly
contributed to the high turtle mortality in the country," he said.
Mr Wamukota said it is estimated that about 30,000 hatchings were
reported on the Kenyan coast last year although the exact number
will be established after all the data has been compiled.
The campaign to enhance sea turtle conservation activities in the
country have been intensified through an integrated project
sponsored by the United States Agency for International
The project brings together different stakeholders who include
WWF, Kescom and the KWS.
"This project aims to involve more Government institutions and
local communities in sea turtles conservation activities," he said.
He said the project would help build the capacity of the community
monitoring system, introduce satellite sea turtles monitoring and
spearhead awareness and education campaigns.
SAFETY AND HEALTH OF KENYAN FISHERS ON BOARD INDUSTRIAL FISHING
VESSELS (With Specific reference to Illegal, Unregulated
and Unreported - IUU - Fishing) RECOMMENDATIONS AND BACKGROUND
MATERIALS FOR THE OBSERVATORY OF SEAFARERS’ RIGHTS, UNIVERSITY
OF NANTES, FRANCE 2-DAY MEETING ON SAFETY AND HEALTH IN THE
FISHING INDUSTRY - MARCH 17TH – 18TH 2005
Victoria over-fishing threatens poor families
January 2, 2003
By Aloyce Menda
||THE Lake Victoria
over-fishing is threatening poor families on the Tanzanian
side. Andrew Asilla Atonga says, in a study, that extensive
fishing may cause multi-dimensional threats to food security
around the lake. He cautions that if the current trend of
fish exploitation continues, the East African Community
states should expect a total collapse of the Lake Victoria
The burgeoning fish
industry has already caused poverty to locals that depend on the
lake fishes for their livelihood. These people are edged out of
production, price marketing and processing of fish.
Women are particularly
the most vulnerable as they were previously actively involved in
the processing and marketing of fish, a task which has now been
taken over by men.
unrestricted trade has increased food insecurity and reduced
nutrition as families opt to get high income from the fish
industry. Many poor families are now facing problems of getting
alternative sources of protein and alternative sources of income
around the lake.
Above all fish stocks
in the lake are dwindling. The Nile perch, a famous specie, is a
notable example. Data collected recently indicates that the fish
is over exploited and hence there is need to take immediate action
to avoid a collapse of the fishing industry, advises Atonga from
the Kenya Marine Fisheries Research Institute.
Lake Victoria is
historically important to the local communities for fisheries,
agricultural and domestic water supply. Estimates show that the
annual fish catch from the lake is between 400,000 to 500,000
tonnes, generating between US$ 300 and US$ 400 million.
Over 90 per cent of
the total fish landed in Kenya comes from the lake despite the
fact that the Kenyan part of the lake is only six per cent.
Tanzanian part of the lake is 49 per cent while the Ugandan part
is 43 per cent.
Lake Victoria occupies
an area of 69,000 square kilometres and a volume of 2,700 cubic
kilometres. It is the second largest fresh water body in the world
after North America's Lake Superior.
Meanwhile, Tanzanian small-scale fishermen are poorer than petty
fish traders. This contradicts the general assumption that since
the fishermen catch fish freely they are likely to earn more
income than fish traders.
On the contrary, fish petty traders are better off than fishermen
as far as household incomes are concerned. This is because traders
have enough time to engage in other occupations that can
supplement their incomes while fishermen do not.
However, a policy
intended to uplift the welfare of fishermen over other comparable
groups should be established with great care. This is because it
may inadvertently exacerbate over fishing by attracting more
people into fishing. It is suggested that the fishery management
policy in Tanzania should be subjected to studies on the relative
welfare of fishermen in line with the poverty alleviation policy.
In assessing the relative poverty of fishermen the core issue
should be whether the fishing waters are over-fished or not. This
is because over-fishing has been cited as the main cause of
poverty among fishermen.
When water is
over-fished, the fishermen spend more efforts and time to get very
little fish in return. Indicators of over-fishing are declining
catch per unit effort, disappearance of valuable species and
emergence of illegal fishing such as poisoning, dynamite fishing
and the use of smaller mesh nets for fishing.
When over fishing
occurs in a certain water body, the traders will shift to another
place but the fishermen cannot do so immediately. Fish catches
will continue to dwindle and fishermen have to compensate their
efforts by increasing prices.
However, traders and
consumers may not buy their fishes and may opt for cost-effective
sources. Over-fishing has occurred in several waters in Tanzania
in the past. Available studies indicate that over-fishing was once
very extensive in Zanzibar, Coast Region near Dar es Salaam
harbour and Lake Victoria.
In all these cases
artisan fishermen were the most vulnerable as their small
investments are stationary while fish traders could easily shift
positions- Business Times