Committee to summon DCI, Kenya Coast Guard over illegal fishing

The Senate Standing Committee on Labour and Social Welfare will summon the Directorate of Criminal Investigation and Kenya Coast Guard Services (KCGS) over suspicious fishing activities within the country’s territorial waters.

The Committee chairman Johnson Sakaja said the committee will need input from the DCI and KCGS before concluding its inquiry into claims of mistreatment of Kenya Seafarers working for Chinese owned fishing vessels.

“Having heard complaints from the Kenyan seafarers onboard the Chinese owned fishing vessels. It appears there are more than meets the eye. We shall engage DCI and the Coast guards to look further into the bottom of some of the claims,” added Sakaja after a hearing session at Mombasa County Assembly on Friday.

He said they expect DCI Director George Kinoti and KCGS Director General Brigadier Vincent Loonena to appear before his committee and respond to some pertinent issues.

The committee members observed that foreign maritime vessels registered in the country should be thoroughly inspected and monitored to ensure they are not involved in unscrupulous activities including shipment of contraband goods and narcotic substances.

Sakaja said his committee was baffled with some revelations by the Kenyan sailors that a Chinese owned fishing vessel received unknown cargo in the high seas from other foreign vessels.

The seafarers told the committee that the particular vessel was docked in the high seas without being involved in fishing activities but kept loading cargo brought by other vessels in clandestine manner.

Kenyan seafears through Mombasa Senator Mohamed Faki petition the Senate to investigate sexual harassment by the Chinese seafarers, racism, poor wages and overworking. The Kenyans work aboard 11 Chinese owned Kenyan flagged fishing vessels.

Sakaja said joblessness among Kenyans should not be reason for exploitation of the seafarers adding that his committee will ensure that the citizens are not subjected to such deplorable labour practices.

Musa Sila told the committee how they are mistreated by the owners of the foreign fishing vessels, poor working conditions and deprivation of their rights under International Maritime Organization (IMO).

However, Sakaja said his committee will carry out an independent investigation with the help of other state agencies before writing a fact based report.

“This committee will not be convinced with parties with vested interests. We are dealing with sensitive matters. It has the power and privilege to engage the National Intelligence Services and other security organs to investigate these claims,” he added.

Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) Director in charge of Commercial vessels John Omingo, who appeared before the committee said that one of the Chinese owned vessels had its license revoked this week.

He said the Kenya Fisheries services recommended to KMA for the reflagging and cancelation of the fishing licence of the vessel after failing to comply with the country’s fishing laws and regulations.

Sakaja said his committee will not accept exploitation of Kenya workers in the maritime industry where the government has pumped massive funds to harness vast opportunities within the blue economy.

  

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