The government will not ban fish imports from China as demanded by fishermen, a fisheries official has said.
Director general of Kenya Fisheries Service Susan Imande said the government has introduced strict rules to contain the imports and give the local fish production an upper hand.
She said henceforth, the fish imports would arrive partly processed and frozen to protect the country’s fishermen. “The fish will have the inner parts removed and will arrive in the country frozen, meaning that they will have lower quality compared to the local fish,” Imande said.
She spoke during celebrations to mark World Fisheries Day at Kamere landing beach in Naivasha.
Fisheries PS Micheni Ntiba said the country could reduce imports by improving fish farming.
He said the country has received Sh14 billion from International Fund for Agricultural Development to increase area under aquaculture from 4,628 areas to 4,942 acres by constructing new ponds in 15 counties.
“Aquaculture production will be increased to 84,551 metric tonnes by 2022, while the country’s annual fish production is approximately 150,000 metric tonnes valued at about Sh21 billion,” he said.
Ntiba said water hyacinth has choked the lake and concerted efforts between the county and the fishermen is needed to address the problem. “This weed could end up killing this lake, which supports hundreds of families. There is need for manure harvesting and continued restocking,” he said.
Nakuru governor Lee Kinyanjui said his government had set aside Sh22 million to establish more fish farms in the county.
He said the county would construct a fish market and storage facilities on the Nairobi-Nakuru highway to assist tens of hawkers. “The lake has some challenges like poaching and an increase in illegal fishermen. We want a police unit permanently seconded to the water body,” he said.
Agriculture executive Immaculate Maina said plans were underway to restock the lake with 150,000 fingerlings as one way of boosting fish production. “The county is contemplating introducing an annual three-month fishing ban to allow the fingerlings to mature,” she said.
Last month, President Uhuru Kenyatta said the Chinese fish was strangling the local market.
“I have been told about the imported fish from China. It is not possible that we import Chinese fish when our local traders are here,” he said.
Uhuru said though the Finance Bill 2018 was signed to law, it does not mean that imports be replaced with what is available in the local market.
In June this year, fishermen at Lake Naivasha said the foreign fish had flooded markets and called upon the government to intervene.
In 2016, former Kisumu governor Jack Ranguma told the national government to impose a 100 per cent ban on fish imports from China.
He said that there was no logical rationale for allowing the trade which has already affected the local fish market.