ALERT ON ACRES OF DEAD FISH IN THE SEA

Friday, February 27, 2004
COASTWEEK / Kenya

By EDMUND KWENA and WILSON KIMANI
EXPRESS Writers

Unlicenced trawlers are destroying marine life in Malindi sweeping everything in their wake and destroying corals, sea weed, fish eggs, turtles and Malindi herrings, says Cooper Motors Corporation Holding boss Martin Foster.

Mr Foster, who is a sport fisher, said the trawlers valued prawns more than other marine life and hastily threw away anything else caught in their nets.

In an interview with Coast Express, Mr Forster said that in some cases local scuba divers were being paid by businessmen to dive for lobsters which are then exported to Europe.

"The problem is that these divers catch everything they find under the water, regardless of whether the lobsters are too young or if are nesting," he said.

He warned that unless the government stepped in to regulate fishing, the area around Malindi would soon be without marine resources. "This will be very unfortunate," he said.

In October last year, sport fishermen competing in the area were shocked to see "acres and acres" of dead Malindi Herrings which had been thrown away by trawlers.

"These people do not pay taxes and the damage they cause is too high," Mr Foster said.

When reached for a comment, a senior Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock Development official said the government was doing everything possible to stop depletion of marine life by trawlers.

The Director of Fisheries, Mrs Nancy Gitonga, said that to control trawling, the government had reduced the number of trawlers from eight to four in the past five years.

"The Ministry is finalising plans to buy a surveillance boat that will patrol coastal waters to stop illegal fishing," she said.

"The Fisheries Department is doing everything possible to protect marine life. Those saying there are many trawlers along our Coast are not telling the truth, she said.