Fishermen in Lamu County have been forced to throw away tonnes of tuna fish due to lack of market amidst a bountiful season.
The fishermen from the Lamu archipelago on Wednesday told Nation that there was an increase in the number of tuna fish being caught from the Indian Ocean in recent days.
The, fishermen, who said they are making huge losses due to lack of market, appealed to the government to help them find market for their catch.
Lamu County Beach Management Units Chairman Mohamed Somo said that many fish stores were full due to the surplus, a situation he said, had led to a drop in the prices.
A kilo of tuna fish, which retailed at Sh300, now goes for Sh100. Mr Somo said Lamu fishermen harvest over 40 tonnes of the tuna fish daily.
He said most of the fish ended up rotting due to lack of market and insufficient storage facilities.
“Since the year began, there has been an increase in the amount of tuna fish being caught daily in Lamu. We get over 40 tonnes of fish daily, unfortunately, we have nowhere to take the fish due to lack of market. We are forced to throw away hundreds of decomposing tuna daily,” said Mr Somo who called on the government to establish a fish processing plant in Lamu.
Mr Said Ahmed, a fisherman in Lamu Old Town, appealed to the county and national governments to help them get foreign markets for their fish.
“The county and national governments should think of helping us export our fish for good returns,” said Mr Ahmed.
Mr Omar Makwata said it was a shame that fishermen threw away fish for lack of proper storage facilities despite pledges by the county government to purchase them.
“We can’t even keep our children to school. The season is good and there’s plenty of tuna fish but we have no market. We are throwing away fish,” said Mr Makwata.
Middlemen, who have taken advantage of the fishermen’s predicament, now buy the fish at low prices. Some of them force the fishermen to go for months before they are paid their dues. Mr Shebwana Kupi said lack of market has discouraged many fishermen.
“We can’t expand the business anymore since we have no market. Some of us have already quit commercial fishing due to lack of market,” said Mr Kupi. Fishing is one of the leading income generating ventures in Lamu County.