The Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Peter Munya has commissioned three powerful fishing vessels in Mombasa to allow local fishermen to take up deep sea fishing.
Munya said the three boats would be distributed to fisher folks in the coastal counties of Mombasa, Kilifi and Lamu for the purpose of deep sea fishing in the region.
He disclosed that two other modern boats would be procured to be deployed in the counties of Lamu and Tana River to also tap into their huge aquatic resources.
The CS spoke during the commissioning of the fishing boats at the Liwatoni Fishing Port in Mombasa where he observed the maritime space in the country has great potential to spur social-economic development.
He said the commissioning comes at a time 186 local fishermen were trained in deep sea fishing at the Bandari Maritime Academy in Mombasa.
“The trained fishers are expected to offer specialized manpower to local fishing fleets which are undergoing expansion under the Blue Economy Programme” he said.
Munya said the government is now turning its focus on maritime matters as the ‘next frontier of economic growth’ hence underscored the need for the youth to explore career opportunities at sea.
The blue economy sector encompasses fisheries, maritime biotechnology, aquaculture, tourism and marine transport and logistics.
He said the fishing vessels which are ready for operations were each procured at a cost of Sh.20 million and would empower local fishermen to venture into deep sea fishing.
Munya noted that local fishermen have for long been challenged by lack of modern fishing vessels to allow them embark on deep sea fishing which he added has been exploited by foreign trawlers.
“These boats are fitted with necessary navigation and safety equipment that would enable our fishermen to exploit fisheries resources in deep waters” he said adding that they can comfortably cruise at 12 knots with over 10 tons of fish on board.
The minister said the government is determined to invest in the fishing sector to increase fisheries contribution to the GDP and create employment.
He said the government is refurbishing and rehabilitating the Liwatoni Fishing Complex to allow it to provide first-class fisheries jetty, adequate cold storage, fish processing facility and a fish auction centre.
Munya said to promote fish handling, hygiene and reduce post-harvest losses, the government is constructing fish markets of Malindi fish market in Kilifi and Likoni fish market in Mombasa.
The minister said local fishermen face the challenge of accessing fish landing sites which he decried have fallen into the hands of private developers in the past.
“But following a presidential directive that we repossess all grabbed public beach landing sites and that several in Mombasa and Kilifi have already reverted back to the government” he said.