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Leveraging the Blue Economy for sustainable exploitation of water resources

By Judith Akolo

The Kenya Government is undertaking policy, legal and institutional reforms to create an enabling environment for the sustainable exploitation of blue economy resources in the country.

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The Cabinet Secretary for Mining, Blue Economy and Maritime Affairs Salim Mvurya said that the government is creating new institutions to support the fisheries sector adding that this follows the recognition of the importance of the Blue Economy to the national development of the country and a frontier for investment.

In a speech read for him by the Fisheries & Blue Economy Secretary Rodrick Kundu at the beginning of the Eastern Africa, Southern Africa, and the Indian Oceans states meeting on Blue Economy Knowledge and Experience Sharing Fair held in Mombasa County, the Cabinet Secretary said that “tapping the potential in the blue economy provides room for economic growth and development to enhance livelihoods for our people, create employment opportunities, and reduce poverty.”

While noting that the fisheries and aquaculture sub-sector contributes significantly to food and nutrition security, and trade, Mvurya said that the government had established various departments to ensure that the potential in the Blue Economy sector contributes to the country’s gross domestic product.

He said such institutions as the Kenya Fisheries Service which is mandated to conserve, manage and develop Kenya’s fisheries resources; Kenya Fish Marketing Authority, mandated to market fish and fishery products from Kenya; Fish Levy Trust Fund, sustainable funding system; are institutions established as enablers to sustainable exploitation of resources in the Blue Economy sector.

“The Kenya Coast Guard Services which is in charge of the protection of marine resources; Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute, mandated to undertake research in marine and freshwater fisheries, aquaculture, environmental and ecological studies for sustainable exploitation of fisheries and other aquatic resources; Kenya Fishing Industries Corporation, mandated with the exploitation of fishery resources in Kenya fishery waters and high seas by promoting the establishment, development and efficiency of business engaged in the fishing and fishing related activities,” said the Cabinet Secretary.

Speaking on the topic: Leveraging the Blue Economy through efficient small-scale fisheries management and aquatic biodiversity conservation to build the Africa We Want Blue Economy, the Cabinet Secretary said that a review of policies and programs will help to “enhance access to affordable food, and also address the adverse effects of climate change.”

Mvurya noted that the development and validation of a national Blue Economy Strategy will help to create synergy among the various sectors and also provide an avenue for exploration and exploitation of the opportunities in the blue economy “which is presenting great opportunity for job creation as well as sustainable livelihoods.”

The Cabinet Secretary reiterated that the government is encouraging the Beach Management Units to join the cooperative movement in order to make savings and benefit from lower loan interest-rates to help them grow their businesses. “The initiative is going to be a major boost to the growth of the small scale fishing and would improve the livelihood of the coastal counties directly and indirectly,” he said.

The Knowledge Fair organised by the ECOFISH Programme in partnership with the African Union InterAfrica Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) and the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) aims to harness the wealth of knowledge and innovations, policy guidance, experiential learnings and best practices in the field of the Blue Economy, Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries and Aquaculture Development and Aquatic Biodiversity conservation to contribute to the political, socio-economic and ecological aspirations of Africa Agenda 2063.

ECOFISH is a cross-regional Initiative of the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) promoted and administered by European Union Delegation (EUD) Mauritius and implemented by the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) in partnership with the mandated regional economic and fisheries organisation. “It leverages effective cooperation to foster sustainable management of the inland and marine wild fisheries resources to contribute to the Blue Economy of Eastern Africa, Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean (EA-SA-IO) region,” says Dr. Soobaschan Sweenarain

The ECOFISH Program attempts to operationalise the fundamental principles of Sustainable Development, in the fisheries sector amid the unprecedented challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss and inequalities.

“It empowers institutional stakeholders at various governance scales to unleash the development potential of sustainable fisheries as a resilient growth engine for shared prosperity across the local and national economies,” says Dr. Sweenarain.

He notes that documenting and sharing knowledge, lessons learned, experiential learning, and best practices is crucial to promoting continuous improvement in policy-making and management decisions to drive sustainable development programmes and projects.

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