President Uhuru Kenyatta on Saturday unveiled the Sh10 billion Kenya Marine Fisheries Socio-Economic Development Project. The government seeks to improve the income of fishing communities along the Kenyan coast.
President Kenyatta said the opportunity provided by the project must be exploited to generate investments, create jobs, increase tax revenues and improve local livelihoods.
He emphasised the need to commercialise the country’s marine resources for the benefit of Kenyans by creating well thought strategic national systems to ensure landing of more than 300,000 metric tonnes of fish annually and create at least 60,000 jobs in the next 10 years.
The World Bank-supported project, which seeks to create over 60,000 new jobs in the fishing sector, will benefit 19 sub-counties in Kwale, Mombasa, Kilifi, Tana River and Lamu counties.
Covid-19 recovery efforts
Speaking at the launch of the projects, the President said the project is part of the government’s post Covid-19 recovery efforts, adding that the initiative, to be rolled in five years, will lead to sustainable utilisation of Kenya’s marine fisheries resources.
“When completed, we expect this project to contribute to sustainable exploitation of Kenya’s marine fisheries. This represents a new dawn in the development of the coastal region; and it is a key pillar in my administration’s job and wealth creation agenda,” the President said.
The President also outlined several other interventions the government is implementing to expand opportunities for employment and wealth creation in the emerging blue economy sector.
He listed the creation of a dedicated office to deal with oceans and the blue economy, the revival of Liwatoni Fish Port and the government’s plan to set up a fish processing factory in Lamu as some of the ongoing projects in the fisheries sector.
Training of seafarers
On capacity building in the sector, the President said the government had designated the Bandari Maritime Academy to be the centre of excellence in training of seafarers and fisherfolk.
“Building the capacity of our fishers to world standards is an essential part of this effort. The enhanced management framework, under the Oceans and Blue Economy Office should ensure that fishing vessels licensed to operate in our waters provide job and training opportunities for our fishers and young people,” the President said.
Coast Governors Hassan Joho (Mombasa), Salim Mvurya (Kwale), Amason Kingi (Kilifi), Dhadho Godhana (Tana River) and Fahim Twaha (Lamu) hailed the project is a new frontier in improving the livelihoods of fishing communities and spurring growth of related industries in the region.
Mombasa Governor Ali Joho said the lives of the coastal people were closely intertwined with fishing. He called for investments and policy reforms to ensure the sector benefits more people.
Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya, who is also the chairman of Jumuiya ya Pwani- a regional grouping of the six Coastal counties, called for the integrated development and exploitation of the blue economy and other sectors such as agribusiness, infrastructure, tourism, education and training.
The event was attended by Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Co-operatives Peter Munya, his Treasury counterpart Ukur Yatani and chairman of the blue economy initiative Gen. (Rtd) Samson Mwathethe among other senior government officials.