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Listing as a TC follows an elaborate assessment by the internal oversight committee of the Marine Stewardship Council and an external review committee

By Dr. Melckzedeck K. Osore

Dr. Gladys Okemwa is now listed as a Technical Consultant (TC) for the global Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). The appointment and listing of her name on the MSC website was announced on 15th May, 2020.  Dr Okemwa becomes the first Kenyan scientist and the first female from the western Indian Ocean (WIO) region to be listed.

On learning about her official listing, Dr. Okemwa said, “I am very excited to be among the first African women to be listed. This recognition is a call of duty to my country and the western Indian Ocean region. I will provide my technical expertise to help us move closer to achieving our dream of getting more of our key coastal fisheries certified”.

Dr. Okemwa was most thankful to KMFRI and various mentors for her achievement:

“I extend my gratitude to KMFRI for the wealth of opportunities and experience gained as a fisheries scientist. I am also very grateful to WWF, the MSC trainers from South Africa and UK (Michael Marriot, Dr Andrew Gordon, Dr Jaco Barendse, Dave Japp, Stewart Norman) and the Review Committee for the roles played towards this achievement.

It all started in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in October 2017 when she attended the workshop titled: “Working towards MSC Certification". This was a Level 2 training workshop organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) to build capacity of fisheries scientists and managers in the western Indian Ocean region. Dr. Okemwa developed  a very keen interest on the technical aspects at this initial training level and proceeded further to undertake a level 3 training held in 2019, which included passing an online written exam and a practical assessment involving field visits with a technical team of experts from South Africa. She has also been a member of the technical team that is tracking i mplementation of the national lobster Fisheries Improvement Plan (FIP), an effort spearheaded by the Kenya Fisheries Service that is working towards making this fishery first to be certified in Kenya.

Her exposure and participation in the FIP has enhanced her skills and practical experience on the MSC process, which has been highly beneficial to her personally and to KMFRI as a fisheries institution. No doubt her appointment as TC will inspire many young fisheries scientists in Kenya and in the WIO region towards greater heights..

Dr. Okemwa further explains why certification is a win for all, “As we invest in MSC certification, we need to especially understand how this will benefit our people and the Blue Economy. The MSC Fisheries Standard is based on the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) code of conduct for responsible fisheries. A fishery undergoes a process of assessments against a standard criteria. Once certified, the products receive a blue MSC label, which indicates that they were harvested from a well-managed and sustainable fishery. Eco-labeled products lead to enhanced access to global markets fetching more competitive pricing.  Local livelihoods are also secured as income levels are boosted. This is a win-win situation for all!!

The listing on the website can be accessed via:

 https://www.msc.org/for-business/fisheries/developing-world-and-small-scale-fisheries/fips/technical-consultants