Kenya has lifted ban on Chinese fish imports into the country at a time when local fish production has declined due to water hyacinth invasion in Lake Victoria, Kenya’s main source of fish.
The ban on Chinese fish was enforced last year by the Department of Fisheries in a bid aimed at protecting the local industry.
According to the 2018 Economic Survey Report, the total quantity of fish landed declined from 147.7 thousand tonnes in 2016 to 135.1 thousand tonnes in 2017.
In this, fish from fresh water sources dropped from 123.5 thousand tonnes in 2016 to 111.8 thousand tonnes in 2017, mainly attributed to decline in catches from Lake Victoria, Lake Turkana and fish farming.
Fish landed from Lake Victoria accounted for 68.5 per cent of the total fish landed during the year under review. However, the lake’s annual output dropped from 98.7 thousand tonnes in 2016 to 92.7 thousand tonnes in 2017.
Fish landed from Lake Turkana declined from 7.9 thousand tonnes in 2016 to four thousand tonnes in 2017 on account of receding water levels coupled with improper fishing practices and poor fish handling.
The quantity of fish from fish farming reduced from 15,000 metric tonnes in 2016 to 12.4 thousand metric tonnes in 2017. The decline was partly attributed to failure by farmers to re-stock fish ponds in 2017, citing high prices of fish inputs and drying up of ponds due to drought during the year under review.
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Total output from marine sources recorded a decline of 3.7 per cent from 24.2 thousand tonnes in 2016 to 23.3 thousand tonnes with marine fish accounting for 88.5 per cent. Crustaceans and molluscs contributed only 3.0 and 8.5 per cent of marine sources, respectively, in 2017.
Total value of fish landed which has been on the decline for three consecutive years, dropped further from Sh24.5bn in 2016 to Sh23bn in 2017.
The value of fresh water fish dropped by 6.1 per cent from Sh19.8bn in 2016 to Sh18.6bn in the year under review. Similarly, the value of fish from marine sources decreased from Sh3.4bn in 2016 to Sh3.3bn in 2017.
Kenya’s fish imports stand at 21,600 tonnes annually and with local production at 135,100 tonnes the total deficit is 343,300 tonnes.
In 2018, the value of Chinese imports increased to $16.97m up from $14.97m in 2017 with 22,362 tonnes imported compared to 19,127 tonnes in 2017 according to the Department of Fisheries.