Hundreds of fishermen in Malindi, Kilifi County have decried decreased amount of fish stock in the ocean following the arrival large strange fishing vessels in the Indian Ocean waters.
The area Beach Management Unit (BMU), led by Mr Charo Chea, said they suspect the ‘strange looking’ fishing vessels that have camped at the ocean near Malindi are conducting illegal fishing.
“The vessels which have camped in the ocean for months might be using illegal fishing gears to catch fish thereby leading to reduction of fish stock,” he said, adding, efforts to seek intervention from Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and the Agriculture and Fisheries ministry to investigate the illegal fishing have been futile. Before the suspect fishing vessels arrived, Mr Chea says, “we used to harvest a lot of fish. We’re wondering why the government is silent despite the illegal fishermen using outlawed nets.”
Mr Salim Omar, another fisherman says they are now forced to go deep into the ocean to catch fish, which they never did before the large vessels arrived.
Going into the deep, he said, is expensive and a challenge because their vessels are not designed for deep sea fishing.
“This has made fishing expensive for us since we have to cater for food and fuel costs,” he said.
In order to harvest big fish in large quantities, they now have to travel to Lamu, Wayu and Tenevi, which are dozens of miles away.
Ms Mariam Abdalla, a fishmonger in Malindi, said the arrival of large fishing vessels, which have camped at the sea, has spoilt business in the resort town owing to massive fish shortage.
Women fishmongers at the [local] market are feeling the pinch and find themselves jobless if the situation persists, Ms Abdalla says. “Large vessels don’t sell their fish to local fishmongers,” she says.
The normal practice is for them to buy fish from fishermen at affordable prices and sell at the open market.
Ms Maureen Kadzo, who runs an eatery at Bunthwani says, they too, have been hit by reduced fish stock. “Most customers coming to eat at the beach usually demand sea food and we have been unable to provide adequately for the last one month after the arrival of the large fishing vessels,” she said.