Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Cabinet Secretary Mr. Willy Bett and Principal Secretary Prof. Micheni Ntiba led senior county officials, elected leaders, directors of various parastatals, government employees and Kwale residents in marking this year’s World Fisheries Day 2017 celebrations in Shimoni, Kwale County. KMFRI Director Prof. James Njiru and the institute’s BoM members graced the occasion.

In his keynote address, CS Bett underscored the contribution of fisheries to the Blue Economy. He said besides having high nutritional value, thousands of fishers depend on fish business for livelihood.

Mr. Bett said fisheries has huge untapped potential and there is need to promote aquaculture to increase fish consumption, which, he said, will in turn expand market, citing the ‘Eat More Fish Campaign’ launched in Nyeri last year. He said the government is ready to invest in creating awareness, citing the creation of the Blue Economy department aimed at boosting returns from the sector.

The CS cited the installation of surveillance system and the purchase of PV boats as some of the investments aimed at monitoring fishing in Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs). Mr Bett said the government plans to build piers in all fish landing sites to encourage fishers to fish more. He urged fishers to join saccos for proper management of fisheries, saying cooperatives will also help identify genuine fishers.

The CS, however, highlighted challenges facing the venture such as rampant use of illegal fishing gears, which he said poses a major threat to fish production. He urged fishers to know why they are engaged in the trade to take relevant steps in safeguarding their livelihoods, adding there is need to examine such challenges.

For his part, Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries CS Prof. Micheni Ntiba urged fishers to scrutinise Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Authority (Amendment) Act, 2015 to find out how they can benefit from the law. The Act provides for harmonization of stakeholder associations and appointment of a committee to help in the management of fisheries. It also allows formation of advisory councils and training opportunities for group members.

Kwale Agriculture Executive Ms Joanne Nyamasyo enumerated fisheries projects namely seaweed farming and mangrove restoration, and highlighted how they have transformed the sector.