A FIRST BREAKTHROUGH AGAINST THE VACUUM-CLEANING OF
THE AFRICAN COASTAL WATERS OF THE INDIAN OCEAN
Trawling in Kenyan waters is suspended
Friday, November 3, 2000
By ROBERT NYAGAH
The Kenya government has suspended trawling activities off the Kenya
Coast for three months starting from next month to pave way for strict
measures to control wanton destruction of marine resources, fisheries
The government of the Republic of Kenya also warned trawling firms that
they risked losing their
licenses if caught operating within the five-nautical miles off the
However, fisherman, have said the three month-ban actually covers the
time fisheries take to recover and trawlers withdrawn.
The government was torn between banning trawling in the Indian Ocean all
together after details indicated that heavy destruction of the
eco-system and marine life was taking place. The Permanent Secrertary
for Agriculture and Rural Development, Prof Shem Migot-Adhola said „we
might consider banning trawling until
we have undertaken studies to acertain the level of destruction“
A task force bringing together all the stakeholders in the fishing
industry, marine research and environmentalists was formed to come up
with guidelines on the future of trawling in Kenyan waters.
The task force comprises members from Kenya Wildlife Service, Fisheries
Department, Kenya Navy, Kenya Marine Research Institute, trawling firms
and artisanal fishing representatives from Malindi, Kipini and Shimoni.
The suspension was announced by Prof Migo-Adholab announced during a
conservation seminar at Eden Roc Hotel in Malindi.
The marine resource utilisation and surveillance stakeholders seminar
was chaired by Prof Migot-Adhola. The suspension was put in place
following complaints from several quarters that blamed trawling for
causing the worst damage to marine environment on the Kenyan coast.
Said the PS „Trawling firms should henceforth adhere strictly to the
law and avoid venturing into the five nautical miles area. Vessels
arrested within this zone will have their licences cancelled.“
However, the suspension was only temporary and would be lifted as soon
as proper guidelines, the interpretation on marine protection laws and
decision on surveillance were agreed upon by all the stakeholders.
Lack of patrols to look out for trawlers that infringed the five nutical
rule was also blamed for the destruction of marine environment.
The Kenya Navy was also criticised for being reluctant to be involved in
The PS and the acting director of fisheries Nancy Gitonga said the four
patrol boat that they used were out of service.
The representatives of the thousands of fishermen along the coastline
wondered why the government continued to ask them to pay for licences
without providing them with any services such as rescue boats in case of
While artisanal fishermen and coast leaders, led by Malindi MP Abubakar
Badawy felt that trawlers should be banned all together, the director of
fisheries suggested that a „live and let live policy“ should be
maintained to ensure that those exploiting marine resources respected
conservation laws. Artisanal fishermen from the entire coast protested
the continued destruction of fishing areas by trawling firms and the
killing of sea turtles despite
International declarations and conventions campaigning for the
protection for the endangered marine species.
Researchers felt that before restrictions were put on those exploiting
marine resources, proper studies should be carried out to ascertain the
correct status of destruction and availability of fish and other marine
Dr Mutungi of Kemfri said modern technological facilities were available
to give the true picture of the marine resources available in each
region and that vessels could be monitored to acertain what they
KWS deputy director Ben Kavu accused trawlers of breaking the law and
destroying marine resources at an alarming rateb and urged urgent
measures to be put in place to curb the practice.
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