Fishermen in the North Coast region are calling on the government to empower them to venture into deep-sea fishing.
This is after a decline in fish stocks in the shallow waters.
Kilifi central beach management unit BMU chairman Kassim Shali said despite the area being one of the richest in fish quantities, the fishermen have been incapacitated to exploit the fishing areas due to the unreliable fishing vessels.
“In June and July kilifi was depending on Lamu County for fish supply although our area has a lot of fish. We only depend on fishermen from Zanzibar who come fishing in the country using modern fishing gears” said Kassim.
Presently there is only a single deep-sea fishing vessel operating between Malindi and Watamu which harvests only 20 tons of fish per day with support from 20 smaller boats.
However, the vessel operates for a short time for fear of disappearing at sea as it lacks support from other vessels which cannot operate in the deep seas.
During a recent visit by the fisheries development minister Amason Kingi in Uyombo landing site off the Watamu fishing zone, the fishermen challenged the minister to make sure fishermen get credit facilities to boost their productivity.
“The availability of credit facilities for fishermen to acquire proper working gear would maximize the production of fishing in the region as it would translate to all year round fishing,” said Ali Hemed a fisherman from the area.
The fishermen noted that the demand for fish was very huge despite the introduction of fish farming in areas away from the ocean with most fishing areas of the region remaining untapped.
The minister assured the fishermen of a plan to jump-start the fishing industry through the coast development programme which received funding from the World Bank.
Kingi said out of the Sh6 billion for the project, Sh800 million was set aside for revamping the fishing industry.
The funds shall be used to train fishermen on how to use modern fishing gear and the purchasing of modern equipment.
Despite the area leading in both ornamental fish and other marine fish, the fishermen are still living in poverty.
Meanwhile, Kilifi Central Beach Management Unit (BMU) has received two fishing vessels from a local nongovernmental organization.
According to the District Fisheries Officer, Mr. Anthony Mwangi, the vessels with a capacity to carry seven tons of fish will greatly benefit the fishing sector in the district.
The two vessels donated by the centre for appropriate development technology (CAST) were acquired for Ksh 1 million.