African Union calls for uniform fishing regime

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African Union calls for uniform fishing regime

African Union calls for uniform fishing regime
Photo credit: World Bank

The African Union is pushing for uniform fishing laws and increased investment in the sector to control the Sh250 billion worth of resources currently trawled away by advanced nations.

Mr Bruce Mukanda, a senior programme officer at the AU’s Animal Bureau said all member states need to adopt a framework already developed by the continental body.

“At the continental perspective, we are looking at individual country policies as we aim to harmonise them across the continent in order to harness this huge fisheries resource,” Mr Mukanda said in Nairobi during a Ticad VI side event.

Kenya is one of the countries that are yet to exploit their fisheries potential. Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett said the country is losing a lot of its fisheries resources to illegal trade by aliens, depriving the country of much-needed revenue.

He said Kenya is making several strides in improving the sector and has passed the fisheries Bill that will address the challenges.

Kenya, for instance, has acquired a new ship to patrol its Indian Ocean territory as the country steps up the campaign against illegal fishing, which has seen it lose up to Sh10 billion every year.

The Sh3.6 billion ship, which has the ability to detect illegal movement of fishing vessels in Kenya’s territorial waters, is expected in the country in January.

“If well tapped, fishing is a great contributor to the economy of our country and we are trying our best to increase our potential by addressing the challenges facing the sector,” said the Mr Bett.

The country has a large exclusive fishing zone with potential to produce 300,000 tonnes of fish annually valued at about Sh75 billion. However, it is yet to utilise the opportunity optimally.

Kenyan fishermen are expected to fish up to 200 nautical miles from the Kenyan shores Under Exclusive Economic Zones rules, but they operate at below five nautical miles for lack of appropriate fishing gear to explore deep seas.

The forum brought together over 10 ministers of Agriculture who discussed how Africa can best benefit from its vast aquatic resources.