Where ice is like gold and rare in our rich fish industry
Fishing is considered the mainstay of communities in the Coastal part of Kenya providing employment for generations.
The industry has however endured a myriad challenges that have caused the potential economic booster to choke amidst high production.
In a survey conducted by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in Lamu, Kilifi and Malindi, the lack of storage mechanisms, over-fishing and poor infrastructure were among key factors affecting the industry that has massive economic potential.
A visit to Kiwayu in Lamu County confirmed the dire situation caused by lack of ice and cooling systems to preserve the fish.
The region that has over 125 fishermen setting out daily, has one facility making it impossible to accommodate the fish coming in.
According to Hashim Lale, Kiwayu Beach Management Unit chairman, fishermen in the region struggle with preservation and the food loss continues to rise every day.
Lale further added that with sufficient storage facilities, fishermen would also be able to wait for better market prices as opposed to being forced to sell their fish at a loss due to desperation.
With every passing moment that the fish is out of water, fishermen grow desperate as brokers await and exploit their desperate need to sell at poor prices.
“We are working with partners and communities in coastal Kenya to address food loss in the fisheries sector through the provision of off-grid cooling solutions such as solar-powered freezers thus contributing to SDG 2, 7, 8 and 12,” said Irene Mwaura – Project officer-energy and climate change, WWF-Kenya.
Fishermen in the tuna and lobster rich area continue to wallow in poverty following the heavy food losses calling on stakeholders to intervene.
According to a report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations 2015, Kenya’s fisheries and aquaculture sector contribute approximately 0.54 percent to the country’s GDP with potential to improve massively.
“Through the initiative, we will also address barriers in the cooling sector such as financing by deploying a Pay As You Go model and using the results from the project to influence change,” added Mwaura
Ngomeni Beach in Kilifi County revealed an even more dire need for cooling systems in a bid to preserve the large volumes of fish coming in.
Here, the community that largely depends on fishing has resulted to drying fish.
According to Farouq Amin, chairman Ngomeni Beach Management Unit, they have a registered 2500 fishermen and 100 boats that go out to fish everyday.
The area with no storage system or ice making machine brings in at least 500 kilograms of fish, on the minimum, daily.
“Our main challenge is preservation. You can wait even for a week before you can secure ice and the closest place you can get it is 25 kilometres away on rough terrain,” lamented Amin
While accusing the county government of doing very little to improve the situation, Amin further noted that climate change has also affected fish farming in the area.
This he says has caused water levels to rise and unpredictable weather patterns that often affect the activity.
In Faza area, the story is ironic, fishermen there have two cooling systems that are not functional calling on stakeholders to come in and aid them.
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