Leaders want Nema to change mind on whale shark project

Thursday October 31 2013

By NATION CORRESPONDENT
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The environmental watchdog has been asked to reverse a decision to block a whale shark project in Kwale County.

The project will be beneficial to the community, according to some leaders in Waa in a letter to National Environmental Management Authority (Nema).

The complainants include Waa Development Committee chairman Hamisi Mwamrezi, Waa Beach Management Unit secretary Juma Bakari Mwafitina and Waa Youth leader Bakari Sudi Mwazanzale.

In their letter, the leaders say that the community is willing to have the project start and therefore request Nema to review the project and also go through the mitigation measures as stipulated by the Beach Management Unit.

Mr Mwazanzale said on behalf of the groups that to decline the issuance of the licence to Seaquarium Ltd, Nema erred in concluding that the whale sharks would be kept in an artificial habitat and in an enclosure.

“The whale sharks will inhabit an open water sea pan directly placed in the ocean and not in an area they will be denied free movement,” he said.

Mr Mwafitina said the BMU felt there was ample space and sea depth to ensure proper movement of the sharks.

In a communication on the project proposal, Nema had said, after consultations with the relevant lead agencies and stakeholders, that the proposed project would deny the whale sharks their natural habitat by enclosing them in an artificial environment.

Other reasons it gave for rejecting the project intended to capture wild whale sharks for public display and tourist attraction, included that the sharks were incredibly important for maintaining a healthy marine ecosystem.