Fishermen in Lamu are up in arms over what they say is an invasion by foreign trawlers. Fishmongers on the northern shores of the Indian Ocean, from Kiwayu to Kipungani and Mpeketoni on the Lamu-Tana River county boundaries. The ships mainly from China, South Korea, and sometimes Spain are destroying fishing equipment belonging to Kenyans while also destroying the coral reefs and seafloor.
According to Lamu Beach Management Units (BMU) areas of Pezali, Pate, Mwamba wa Hasssan, Mwamba wa Yeye, Ziwayu, Zinyika, Kizingitini, Tenewi, and Kipungani were the most affected by activities of the illegal foreign fishermen from Asia.
Even though Kenyan laws permit a five-nautical mile radius for trawlers, the foreign vessels were defying the laws and were fishing as close as two nautical miles to the shore.
Hashim Lali who heads the Kiwayu Beach Management Unit in Lamu East says the Chinese and South Korean trawlers have led to the loss of income on the Kenyan side, where local fishermen have been pushed out of business.
“Apart from depleting the fish stock, these foreign ships destroy the nesting areas. Every time they move secretly from the deep seas to fish illegally in the shallow waters, they end up destroying our nets. This has discouraged many of us here, and they have left the trade to seek other means of earning an income. As you can see, many fishing boats belonging to local fishermen are parked in the yards.,” he told a local publication.
According to Lamu Deputy Governor Abdulhakim Aboud, the foreign vessels are free to encroach on Kenya’s territory because the country’s waters in that part are not policed or protected by the country’s security apparatus. DG Aboud, who is also responsible for the Fisheries docket says Kenya is losing millions of shillings annually to illegal trawlers while the government seems reluctant to seal the loopholes.