Fishermen in Lamu County want President Uhuru Kenyatta to ban the sale of fish in Kenya by their counterparts from Somalia and Tanzania.
The call is by at 6,000 fishermen from Kiunga and Ishakani on the border of Lamu and Somalia. Others are from Mkokoni, Kiwayu, Ndau, Faza, Kizingitini and Pate – all in Lamu East – as well as Kipungani, Shella, Matondoni and Lamu Old Town in Lamu West.
The fishers said it is time the government took the bold step of banning their counterparts from the two countries as they have invaded the local market.
They said salvation is needed as the sector is dwindling.
Led by Lamu East Fishermen Association chairman, Mohamed Ali, they noted that the invasion has left them without a market.
“There is need for measures to be taken to stop Somalia and Tanzania fishermen from selling their fish in our market,” Mr Ali said.
“We forced to sell our fish produce at very low prices because they are always competing with us. The president recently banned the importation of fish from China. Let him to also think of introducing rules that will prohibit foreign fishermen from invading and swarming Kenyan markets so as to save our dwindling fishing sector.”
President Kenyatta banned the importation of fish from China in October. He wondered why imported fish should flood the Kenyan market at the expense of local produce.
Mr Ahmed Omar, a fisherman in Kiunga on the Lamu-Somalia border, noted that their counterparts sell their fish at “very low prices”.
“Fishing no longer fetches us profits. Fish buyers are scarce so we scramble for them. We are worried that this trade will soon be history if something isn’t done,” said Mr Omar.
Regarding the insecurity which led to a prolonged ban on night fishing, especially in the border villages of Kiunga and Ishakani, the fishermen termed it a major hindrance to growth and expansion.
The fishers also cited lack of modern equipment as a challenge to the growth of the sector.
Mr Famau Kupi urged both the county and national governments to purchase modern equipment for them so they can venture into deep waters.
More than 90 percent of Lamu natives directly or indirectly rely on fishing for survival but most of them still employ decades-old techniques.
“We urge the governments to come to our aid. It’s only by having advanced equipment that we can reap maximum benefits from fishing,” said Mr Kupi.
Mr Athman Islam, of Ishakani village, also said the trade will only expand if they are equipped with modern tools.
“With modern tools, we will be able to match our competitors, especially those from Somalia and Tanzania, who seem to have everything needed for deep sea fishing. We can’t match them at the moment and that definitely means we can’t compete in the same market and win,” said Mr Islam.