Kenya loses Sh10 billion annually to foreigners who fish in its waters, President Kenyatta said n Monday.
The Head of State noted that the foreigners carry out illegal fishing in the country’s exclusive economic zone, depleting the country of valuable fish stock like tuna.
The fish, he said, end up being sold to the country at exorbitant prices.
Mr Kenyatta noted that foreigners were capable of exploring the Exclusive Economic Zone since they have deep-sea fishing vessels.
“We lose up to Sh10 billion of fish annually as a result of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing,” he said.
“After robbing us of fish of great value, they later come and sell the same fish to us at exorbitant prices,” he added.
The President was speaking at the port of Mombasa when he commissioned the Sh3.5 billion research vessel RV Mtafiti, which was donated by the Belgian government.
He thanked Belgium for the donation and said the vessel would help the country conduct research on its territorial waters.
To fight the fishermen, the President said, the government had released funds to buy an offshore patrol vessel.
He said the patrol ship was under construction, adding, it would be commissioned soon.
However, the President did not indicate the cost of the vessel or when its construction would be completed.
Apart from trying to solve the illegal fishing challenge, he said the patrol vessel would help stop drug traffickers across the coastline.
“This way, we shall stamp out the drug menace,” he said.
Mr Kenyatta said that although the Coast region had vast marine resources, it only contributed five per cent of the 174,000 metric tonnes of fish produced in the country.
He noted that 30 years ago, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations indicated that the country had the potential to produce more fish per year.
A Marine Fisheries Taskforce four years ago estimated that the country could earn Sh12 billion annually from the marine fisheries.
Fisheries Cabinet Secretary Felix Koskei said the marine has the potential to generate between Sh100 and Sh200 billion annually.
Kilifi governor Amason Kingi and Mombasa senator Omar Hassan also attended the event.