The country has doubled its fish stocks since the launch of the Kenya Coast Services Guards six months ago, reports show.
According to records in Liwatoni, Mombasa County, the stock has increased by 155,000 tonnes after the KCGS and international security teams stopped illegal fishing vessels from operating in Kenyan waters.
More than 400,000 tonnes of fish have landed at Liwatoni Fisheries Complex since the facility was reopened and KCSG launched in November.
Early this week, President Uhuru Kenyatta said a number of vessels flying the Kenyan flag are operating in the country’s waters.
“I launched the coast guard to secure Kenya's territorial waters and protect the country from threats that emanate from the sea. I am pleased to say that even before the rehabilitation of the fisheries complex is completed, some 12 Kenyan vessels are utilising the facility," he said.
Mr Kenyatta said the service has maintained daily patrols of Kenya's waters to guard against illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, provide safety to seafarers and prevent drug smuggling and the illegal movement of people and goods.
"We should ensure that we land at least 30 per cent of fish caught in our waters. This will be achieved by recovering and securing gazetted landing sites for the benefit of the fishing community," he added.
The government has set aside funds to support the development of designated ports in the Coast to facilitate landing by deep sea fishing vessels.
The money will also be used to develop aquaculture technology.
The fish landing sites under construction are Kichwa cha Kati and Ngomeni in Kilifi County, Gazi, Kibuyuni and Vanga in Kwale and two markets in Malindi and Mombasa.
According to the 2018 Kenya Economic Survey, the total quantity of fish landed declined from 147,700 tonnes in 2016 to 135,100 in 2017.
This was partly attributed to improper and destructive practices and illegal fishing.
Kenya's stocks are also exploited by vessels from distant water fishing nations which access the country’s exclusive economic zone upon paying a fee to the Fisheries Department.
The department’s resources are constrained and it lacks proper training and enforcement capacity for monitoring and controlling the activities of the foreign vessels.
The government has identified a number of blue economy projects in order to fight hunger but illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is a setback to the industry.
Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing depletes stocks, corrodes the marine environment and decreases aquatic and marine biodiversity, scientists say.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that nearly a third of fish resources are overexploited or extinct.
More than half of the global stocks are fully exploited and have reached their maximum fishing capacity.
Only 15 per cent of fish stocks worldwide are under-exploited. However, these are predominantly low value species.
The decline of fish stocks has necessitated the introduction of conservation measures.
Globally, more than Sh2.3 trillion is lost to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing every year. Out of this, Kenya loses Sh10 billion.
“The sea cucumber is a rare species. It is very expensive but is being overexploited, leading to the reduction of the species. Regulations are needed for it to recover,” Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute director James Njiru said.
Tuna and sharks are among the species that are declining mainly due to overfishing.
In its latest study, KMFRI says tuna and tuna-like resources globally are valued at more than $42 billion, with the Indian Ocean contributing about 20 to 25 per cent of the total.
In 2003, the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission plot of geographical distribution of main tuna species in the South West Indian ocean showed that Kenya lies in the upwelling region of the ocean and supports the second most productive tuna fishing grounds after Somalia.
Reported by Allan Olingo, Antony Kitimo and Siago Cece