The government has introduced stringent measures to ensure Chinese fish imports do not negatively affect the prices of local production.
Under the new rules, imported fish will arrive in the country as ‘frozen’ products, thus giving Kenya’s species an upper hand in terms of quality.
A threat by the government to ban the imports last month created a diplomatic tiff between China and Kenya, but the Kenya Fisheries Service director general Susan Imande says a meeting between various stakeholders had arrived at the new rules for the imports.
She said henceforth, fish imports would arrive in the country having been partly processed and frozen in a bid to protect the country’s fishermen.
“The fish will have the inner parts missing and will arrive in the country frozen meaning, that they will have lower quality compared to the local fish,” she said.
It emerged that the new development was reached at during World Fisheries Day celebrations which were marked in Kamere landing beach in Naivasha.
On his part, Fisheries principal secretary Micheni Ntiba said the only way the country could reduce the imports was by improving aquaculture farming.
He said that the country had received Sh14 billion from International Fund for Agriculture to increase area under aquaculture from 1,873 hectares to 2,000 hectares by constructing new ponds in 15 counties.
“Aquaculture production will be increased to 84,551 tonnes by 2022 while the country’s annual fish production is approximately 150,000 tonnes valued at about Sh21 billion,” he said.
Ntiba expressed his concern over the water hyacinth weed that has choking the lake saying that it needed concerted efforts between the county and the fishermen to address the problem.“This weed could end up killing this lake which supports hundreds of families and there is need for manure harvesting and continued restocking,” he said.
Kenya’s fish catch has continued to decline over the last five years despite efforts made by the government to guarantee optimal exploitation of fishery products.
Overall, there has been a general reduction of fish landed from every source in Kenya – freshwater lakes, marine or fish farming, thereby creating a gap of 360,000 tonnes against the supply of 140,000 tonnes per year.
Fsh reduction has been necessitated by low catch from the freshwater lakes, the unexploited potential of marine catch due to inadequate facilities and technology necessary for fishing in deep waters and pollution.
In order to meet the deficit, the Government has allowed countries such as India, China, Tanzania and Uganda to export fish to Kenya. Analysts attribute the inadequate fish catch to the use of fishing nets, overfishing, pollution, inadequate facilities and technology.