The recent deal signed
by the government of Kenya to allow EU ships to catch Tuna and
Shrimp off the Kenyan coast needs a lot of caution. For, the deal
might deplete fish stocks vital to poor coastal communities.
For, a very long time
now local and foreign owned fishing vessels have fished along
Kenyan waters contrary to the FAO International Plan of Action for
the Management of Fishing Capacity and the Terromolinos Convention
for the Safety of Fishing Vessels among other agreements.
All fishing vessels
owned localy are very old. Old fishing vessels pose more than just
a risk to the crews that sail on them.
When their value is so
low they are prime candidates for illegal operations as the
possibility of the vessels being impounded carries very little
financial risk for the owner.
As with many elderly
ships, the value of the catch is likely to be many times the value
of the vessels itself.
The fact that the
average of the local and the world’s industrial fishing fleet
has become as high as 22 years is a source of great concern and is
not compatible with the concept of sustainable development. There
is a clear need for an effective scrapping program as well as a
better management of the fishing fleet capacity, one which would
also pay due regard to the availability of resources to prevent
and eliminate excess fishing capacity.
There is also a need
of harmonizing the Fishieries Act and the Merchant Shipping Act.
There is also a need of observing paragraph 17.52 of Agenda 21 and
the FAO Code of conduct for responsible fisheries requirements
which states that flag states should provide full, detailed,
accurate and timely reporting of catches and the fishing effort of
vessels flying their flag.
regional nature of the problem, the seafarers Union of Kenya is
concerned about illegal fishing in Kenya and Somali waters and the
failure of some flag states to control fishing vessels flying
In recent years a
series of resolutions have been adopted by the United Nations
General Assembly during the annual debate on “ Oceans and the
law of the sea”
In highlighting the
threat to the world’s oceans, the UN Secretary – General and
the General Assembly have placed particular emphasis on the need
to eradicate illegal fishing.
In October 2000 a
resolution was adopted which called on states to: “Deter
re-flagging of fishing vessels flying their flag to avoid
compliance with applicable obligations and to ensure that fishing
vessels entitled to fly their flag do not fish in areas under
national jurisdiction of other states unless duly authorized by
the authorities of the states concerned and in accordance with the
conditions set out in the authorization, and that they do not fish
on the high seas in contravention of the applicable conservation
and management measures”.
As 90% of commercially
important fishing stocks lie within the exclusive economic zone of
Kenyan waters we call upon the Kenya government to be more
vigilant on our territorial waters.
Although the EU deal
will create employment to Kenyan seafarers we suffice to say that
the international instruments on environment social and economy
should be observed.
400 Kenya seafarers
serve on foreign flagged vessels, 107 work on domestically owned
or registered fishing vessels.
All of them are under
paid and they work in slave- like conditions aboard under manned
sub-standard ships of, which is contrary to ILO Instruments.
For, they ‘re paid
less than US$ 100.00 contrary to the ILO minimum wage of
The ILO minimum wage
takes into consideration a formula, which reflects changes in
consumer prices and exchange rates against the US Dollar in
forty-nine maritime countries and areas.
Apart from being under
paid they work without proper working gear as well as balanced
diet. Kenyan seafarers also work aboard vessels operating in war
like operations areas without being paid a bonus of which is
contrary to international labor standards. The international labor
standards states that when a vessel enters into an area where
warlike operations take place, the crew member should be paid a
bonus amounting to double the basic wage for the duration of the
vessels stay in such area.
compensation for disability and death shall be doubled.
As this is contrary to
the declaration on fundamental principles and rights of workers we
call upon the government of Kenya to take appropriate action unto
Seafarers Union of Kenya.
P.O. Box 92273
Tel: 00254 41 312058
Cell:00254 721 393458
Fax: 00254 41 230001