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Blue economy forum to help source markets for Kenyan fish farmers

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The recently concluded Africa Blue Economy Forum (ABEF) 2019 has guaranteed to bolster fish farming as well as source fish markets for Kenyan farmers.

Kenya’s fisheries sub sector has declined since 2014 from Sh25.5bn earned in 2014 to Sh22.9bn earned in 2017 due to the encroachment of water hyacinth, coupled with destructive fishing practices and dwindling stocks of Nile perch species in Lake Victoria according to the 2018 Economic Survey Report.

Fish accounts for more than one-fifth of the protein intake of Africans south of the Sahara and provides a livelihood to millions of people.

Convened in Tunis, the capital city of Tunisia, delegates from across the continent last week deliberated on how to scale up the Blue Economy for the black continent.

To achieve this, the speakers at the meeting jointly agreed to enhance cooperation between the ocean stakeholders, better governance and law enforcement agencies.

“Regional, national and local strategies are required to build a long-term plan and develop partnerships that are beyond short-term projects. Engaging with new technologies and innovative financing mechanisms which are also key to shaping a sustainable Blue Economy in Africa” they said.

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Leila Ben Hassen, ABEF founder and CEO of Blue Jay Communication, which organized the forum, said we can no longer just dip our toe in the water.

“We must dive in and be decisive in making and delivering change that will serve Africa for many years to come. It is no longer business as usual. Africa must have a sustainable Blue Business Plan which will have a positive impact on the environment, on the economy and on society,” she said.

To bolster this, the delegates came up with sustainable Blue Business Plan which they said would accelerate Africa’s transformation, create employment opportunities, sustain livelihoods and empower communities, while at the same time offer impactful climate change measures.

The ABEF2019 explored how governments and private sectors can collaborate; tackling ocean pollution; innovative funding solutions; enhanced food security and sustainable growth for the fishing industry; sustainable ocean energy; how to engage more women to work in the maritime value chains and the opportunities to embrace the youth generation in the Blue Economy.

Other key outcomes from the ABEF2019 saw the World Ocean Council, Tunisian Maritime Cluster and SETAP Tunisia signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to create a platform to connect, share information, scientific research and technologies between the Mediterranean and the coastal African countries.

These advances come at a time fish farming in Kenya is dwindling forcing the country to source fish from other countries which scientists say contains metal thus posing health risks to consumers.

According to investigations done by The EastAfrican in 2018, fish imported from china contained traces of heavy metals thus posing health risks to the consumers.

The results confirmed residues of 0.04 ppm of lead, 0.005 ppm of mercury, 0.001 ppm of arsenic and 1.2 ppm of copper, indicating possible contamination of the water ponds used to farm the fish

A report on the Importation of Fish from China by the Assembly Fisheries Committee showed that Kisumu County has a deficit of 4,000 tonnes of fish which can only be met by importing the commodity.

“Fish farming in Lake Victoria has been dwindling from the peak of 5,000 tonnes per annum in the year 2000 to current production of a mere 2,600 tonnes per annum as in 2016,” the report said.

Kenya has 18,029 square kilometers of inland water resources. Freshwater fish account for close to 98 per cent of Kenya’s reported aquaculture production.

According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), domestic production has proven unable to meet demand though.

According to KNBC, the country needs to import 800,000 tonnes of fish every year to meet its ever increasing demand.

Kenya imported fish valued at $12 million in 2017, up from $10 million in 2016. Consumption has been increasing due to growing recognition of its nutritional value, population increase and food storage improvements.

Global fish trade has been increasing very rapidly in recent decades. An estimated 45 per cent of the world catch is now traded internationally.

According to the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute 2017, the fisheries and aquaculture sector contributes about 0.8 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), providing direct employment opportunities to over 500,000 people and supporting over 2 million people indirectly.

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