Kenya: State to pay 16 million shillings debt this week for ocean monitoring – Munya
The government will pay 16 million shillings this week it owes for ocean monitoring work, as officials have acknowledged that foreign vessels are fishing in Kenya’s exclusive economic zones.
In the past eight months, Kenya had not paid subscription fees to a surveillance company and was unable to monitor and intercept foreign vessels fishing in its territorial waters in the Indian Ocean. .
The Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) program is operated by Collecte Localization Satellites, a French company that has been providing satellite data to Kenya for years.
Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya on Wednesday assured stakeholders the government would pay off the debt and resume operations to monitor its deep waters against incursions.
âSixteen million shillings is not much money. We will write off the debt. These ships that are here are allowed to fish, but of course there could be poachers, foreign criminals who do. not rule out this possibility, “Munya said at a press conference. press briefing at Liwatoni fishing complex in Mombasa.
He acknowledged that Kenya lacks the capacity to monitor its deep waters.
“But that is why we are developing our own local policing capacity in our waters to eradicate illegal fishing. The government has made progress in a short period of time,” he said.
“We are training officers … we just need more equipment to face the challenges.”
But Munya denied reports that illegal trawlers were spotted fishing in Lamu and Kilifi counties.
He said trawlers that were spotted in shallow water were allowed.
âIf that were true, officers from the Kenya Coast Guard could have taken action by now. There could be illegal foreign ships, but on the high seas, not in shallow water. spotted those who got a license, âhe said.
There are criteria, processes and standards for licensing foreign fishing vessels, he said.
“Don’t worry about those who got a license because they went through the licensing process. We should be worried about illegal foreign ships that don’t land taxes, jobs and resources.”
Payment to the monitoring company will be cleared today or tomorrow, Fisheries Director General Daniel Mungai said.
âThe 16 million shillings debt is already being cleared. The payment voucher is being processed today or tomorrow. We will now begin to survey our deep waters,â he said.
Collecte Localization Satellites (CLS) claims to be a pioneering provider of control and monitoring solutions. It indicates on its website that it is an exclusive supplier of Argos environmental data.
CLS works in the sustainable management of fisheries, environmental surveillance, maritime surveillance, fleet management, energy and mining. It processes the environmental data and positions of 80,000 beacons per month, as well as observations of oceans and inland waters. It also monitors land and sea activities by satellite.
But due to a financial crisis at the Kenya Coast Guard Service (KCGS) Fisheries, Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Center in Mombasa, Kenya was unable to monitor its waters in the exclusive economic zone. , exposing its resources to exploitation by outsiders.
âThe VMS is not operational due to an (unpaid) subscription of 16 million shillings for maintenance,â revealed the National Assembly’s agriculture committee.
Kenya monitors its waters using the VMS and its only vessel, the MV Doria, as well as with assistance from other countries. But with the failing system and lack of funds to operate Doria, the country is relying on other countries for surveillance.
The Doria is used by KCGS to monitor the country’s territory along the Indian Ocean. It was commissioned by President Uhuru Kenyatta in Mombasa in 2018.
But Kenya needs Sh1 million a day to run the Doria.
Without supervision, the committee warned, Kenya could lose its fish to foreign trawlers.
Kenya’s foreign fishing licenses have always been shrouded in secrecy, with the nation’s efforts to examine the number of government-authorized vessels in the fishing zone having been repeatedly thwarted by the fisheries department and senior maritime officials. .
Between May and August 1, the Nation, through the Global Fish Watch monitoring site, managed to bring together more than 230 fishing vessels engaged in deep sea fishing in Kenyan waters.
Most of these vessels are owned by foreigners, with China, Seychelles, Italy, Taiwan and Hong Kong-flagged vessels repeatedly appearing on the tracking site, recording over 50,000 hours of fishing in the waters. Kenyan women.
In 2020, seven Kenyan-flagged Chinese owned and operated fishing vessels were authorized by the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission to fish in the ocean from January 1, 2021 to December 31, 2031.
This story is part of a series of Nation.Africa reports on the state of the fishing industry in the coastal region.