The Kenyan government has announced that it will not ban fish imports from China due to a severe shortage facing the country.
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya said Kenya has insufficient stocks, with local fish fetching higher prices than imported ones.
“The challenge we have in the country is insufficient local fish to satisfy the market and hence you cannot ban imports that fill that gap that we are facing. You only ban when you raise the capacity to produce locally,” said CS Munya.
“In the meantime, and until we deal with that. Kenyans will continue importing fish. Even the local fish is very expensive, you go to the restaurants, why? Because there is a big shortage. We urge people to invest in this sector. It’s an opportunity for people to do fish farming,” he added.
Annual fish production
Statistics from the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute show that there is a deficit of about 400,000 metric tonnes of fish.
Kenya’s annual fish production stands at 160,000 metric tonnes against the potential of 300,000.
Mr Munya said observed that it is illogical to recommend a ban without providing a solution to the deficit.
“But perhaps it’s a concern that the National Assembly’s Committee on Agriculture has … that we are importing fish when we should be producing locally. We must direct more resources to this sector and build our own local fish production so that we don’t rely on imports,” said Mr Munya.
Last week, the Agriculture Committee said Kenya would ban fish imports from China because enough stocks are available in its lakes, rivers and the ocean.
On the other hand Agriculture Committee and Mps who were on a fact-finding mission on the plight of fishermen in the Coast region, said they want to help the country to harness the sector’s potential and create job and business opportunities.
Chairperson Silas Tiren (Moiben) assured that lawmakers will do their part to improve fisheries and protect the sector from international incursions.