Tilapia imports amount to sabotage, say MPs

Wednesday July 6 2016

Fishmongers prepare fish fillets for sale at

Fishmongers prepare fish fillets for sale at the City Market in Nairobi on June 22, 2015. MPs have raised the alarm over the safety of cheap tilapia imports from China as fish from Asia increasingly get consumed in Kenya. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU (NAIROBI)  

By LYNET IGADWAH

MPs have raised the alarm over the safety of cheap tilapia imports from China as fish from Asia increasingly get consumed in Kenya.

The legislators from the Lake and Coast regions said importing unprocessed fish from China amounts to economic sabotage on communities living near water bodies.

Reports indicate that the East African Sea Food Limited (EASF) has been importing tilapia from China for the past three months to address a deficit in Kisumu.

“The government permitting imports from China must be seen as nothing less than a scheme to completely kill the fishing industry in Kenya,” Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo said at a press conference.

“We strongly condemn this action because the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) has no standards for unprocessed foods,” he added.

The Business Daily could not confirm the ability of Kebs to test the frozen tilapia.

Charles Ongwae, Kebs managing director, did not respond to our calls and text messages on the matter.

The Standard said in a report that the imported fish from China goes for Sh30 a piece compared to the local tilapia that sells at between Sh100 and Sh200.

Official data shows earnings from fresh water fish dropped marginally from Sh20.94 billion in 2014 to Sh20.46 billion last year.

The slight decline came after years of sustained growth in earnings and is linked to the drop in Nile Perch species in Lake Victoria.

The Nile Perch is a predatory fish that experts say preys on other species in its habitat when it matures, leading to a large decline of native tilapia, dagaa and cichlids.