Edward N Kimani and Nina Wambiji
Marine mega fauna including sea turtles, sharks, rays and sea mammals are often caught intentionally or as by-catch by several fishing gears including gillnets, fishing lines and trawls. The semi-industrial shallow water trawl fishing grounds often overlaps with feeding grounds of sea turtles leading to high incidences of interaction mortality. Kenya has been experimenting with Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) with the aim of providing an efficient device for the exclusion of sea turtles while not reducing the target prawns and fish catches. The Bycatch Assessment and Mitigation (BYCAM) funded by the Marine Science and Management (MASMA) Project of the West Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA) implemented between 2016 and 2019 assessed the mega fauna bycatch within gillnet and also undertook a comparative study to assess the target catch lost by using a TED. The project introduced the TED to the fishing industry in Kenya and demonstrated that use of TED did not adversely affect the target catch. To further the TED work, Kenya undertook the first step towards certification following the guidelines of NOAA. In the first step, NOAA experts on gear technology visited Kenya between 17th and 19th September 2019 for the introductory visit following Section 609 of the USA government fisheries regulations. The purpose of the visit was the introduction of the Section 609 of the environmental regulations, understand the trawl fishery of Kenya and demonstrate the deployment of TED on the trawl gear. In attendance were KMFRI scientists, Kenya Fisheries Service (KeFS) senior managers and representatives of the fishing industry including ITTICA and East African Sea Food companies.
Speaking at the meeting, the Director KMFRI, Prof James Njiru, welcomed the experts to Kenya and appreciated their efforts worldwide, and their interest to assist Kenya by supporting in sustainable fisheries. Dr. Edward Kimani, a Senior Fisheries Scientist presented an overview of the shallow water prawn fishery and the experience of Kenya with the use of TEDs and indicated that Kenya was ready to undertake the necessary steps to obtain certification so that the products from the fishery can reach the high value markets. Mr. Mr. Joseph Fette from The USA Department of State presented the role of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) of NOAA and described the requirements for certification. Since 1983, the NMFS of the National Oceanic and Since of Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) provides technical assistance to foreign governments and shrimp trawl industries by:
- Organizing workshops on building, installation and use of TEDs
- Construction of demonstration manuals and video
- At-sea trials to compare catch with and without TED
- Training of the enforcement of TED use.
The NOAA TED expert, Mr. Warren Brown demonstrated the deployment of a TED on the trawl net to the KeFS officers as well as KMFRI scientists at KMFRI Mercantile services facility.
Having undertaken the first step, which is the introductory visit, the next steps towards certification include certification visit and annual monitoring visits.
The certification visit is done after enacting law/regulations and ensuring all trawlers have TEDs. At this time, each port is visited to verify TEDs designed, constructed, installed in trawl nets, and use in accordance with NMFS standards accompanied by inspectors to confirm credible enforcement with compliance monitoring and appropriate sanctions for violations.
After certification, annual certification requires annual confirmation that the nation is maintaining Section 609 standards by periodic visits by U.S.A TEDs Team to review records and observe enforcement through inspections at sea and dockside. Reports from U.S.A embassy and public sources and documentation from foreign government about TEDs enforcement and other sea turtle protection measures are also evaluated. If there are deficiencies, the TEDs Team will meet with the industry and the government authorities to discuss remedies, provide assistance, and plan follow-up visits to confirm progress.