Business

Fishing industry players push for protection of tuna species

Friday, March 1st, 2024 07:29 | By
Tuna is a fish with higher value than any other fish, therefore they are liked locally and internationally with 80 per cent of consumption in Japan. PHOTO/Print
Tuna is a fish with higher value than any other fish, therefore they are liked locally and internationally with 80 per cent of consumption in Japan. PHOTO/Print

Players in the fisheries sector are calling for effective management of the multi-million-shilling tuna and tuna-like resources in the Indian Ocean as the fish resource continues to attract huge demand in the market.

A section of the players at the national Tuna Fishery Management conference convened by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in Mombasa reiterated the need for tuna fish protection amid transboundary fishing crisis that robs Kenya billions in foreign exchange.


According to a Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI) report, Kenya lands between 150,000 to 300,000 tonnes of fish worth between Sh45 billion annually. Asma Awadh, WWF Coastal Kenya Programmes Manager said tuna fish in the Indian Ocean play a major role in providing a livelihood for the coastal communities who rely on the resources for food and employment opportunities.


“It’s important that Kenya and other countries come together in the management of the tuna fish,” she said. The Fund has embarked on key interventions targeting to promote sustainable fishing to avert extinction of the species.


“At government level we are working with Kenya Coast guard in managing illegal and unregulated fishing, to ensure there is less of that, we are working to ensure that all the tuna is not overfished,” said Awadh.


She added: “Tuna is a fish with higher value than any other fish, therefore they are liked locally and internationally, 80 per cent of Tuna consumption is in Japan. In collaboration with all coastal counties we have taken it upon ourselves to promote this sector,” said Awadh. According to South West Indian Ocean tuna forum coordinator Doreen Simiyu, sustainable and management of the fish will ensure species remain sustainable and away from the threats of extinction.


“As we are aware tuna is the most expensive fish in the world, but the problem is how can we harness the potential, how we can make our fishermen the biggest beneficiaries,” she said.


Biological limit


She added: “From studies, one of the tuna fish is in the red because it’s being overfished, we are pushing for countries to put mechanisms in place to ensure it is not harvested beyond its biological limit, we need to report these illegalities”.


Coast County executive committee members (CECM) caucus chairman Faiz Abushiri said Kenya’s tuna potential remains huge and untapped and now risks depletion due to what they termed overfishing and unregulated fishing in the Indian Ocean.

“We have put monitoring control and surveillance to ensure sustainable fishing by using legal fishing gears, by now 90 per cent of fishermen have been sensitised on sustainable fishing but the threat still remains from foreign trawlers invading our coastline,” he said.


Abushiri who is also the Lamu County CECM for Fisheries, Blue Economy, Livestock and Cooperative Development challenged the government through Kenya Fish Marketing Authority to identify tuna fish markets in Italy where the fish market is huge.


“We challenge the Kenya Fish Marketing Authority to identify a number of fishermen who can be registered and allowed to export fish to Italy and Japan where we have giant tuna markets,” he said.
Mombasa and Lamu counties have embarked on promoting artisanal fishing by buying fishing gear as well as building fish landing sites.


“As we are talking about infrastructure, we can improve on cold storage, fish processing plants give out boats so that we can venture fully into the tuna fish products and get international markets which are lucrative,” he said.

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