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February 23, 2019

Fishing ban at night still on in Lamu despite directive

Ahmed Islam is a fisherman in Lamu.
Ahmed Islam is a fisherman in Lamu.

Fishermen in Lamu have said the night fishing ban is still on,one year after the national government announced it had been lifted.

The ban focuses on the Lamu East areas of Kiunga, Ishakani, Madina, Mkokoni, Kiwayu and its environs, which are known to have many fishermen.

In May last year, the government announced the lifting of the seven-year ban, much to the relief of the over 7,000 fishermen.

However, they have not been allowed to fish at night since the announcement was made. The fishermen yesterday said they feel shortchanged by the government.

“Security officers continue to arrest, molest and harass us whenever we try venturing into the Indian Ocean to fish at night. They warn us to stay out and never set foot in the ocean at night. We don’t even understand whats going on,” Mohamed Bahero, a fisherman from Kiunga, said.

Almost 90 per cent of the locals in Lamu East depend directly on fishing for survival and the ban has as a result left many poor.

Bahero said the night ban has dwindled the once vibrant fishing sector which currently operating at about 25 per cent.

“The government says it has lifted the ban yet we can’t go out fishing at night. Security officers don’t want to hear anything we say. They arrest us and tell us they aren’t aware of the ban being lifted. They tell us we are trespassing and committing offense fishing at night. Basically, there is no night fishing and we want to know why yet the ban was supposedly lifted,” said Bahero.

The fishermen say even when in possession of the recently launched Mvuvi cards, which are supposed to help track all their movements and activities at the sea, they can’t fish at night.

The Mvuvi Card was launched early this year to identify all fishermen in the affected areas and as a permit to allow them carry on with fishing at any given time.

Lamu Fishermen Association Chair Mohamed Somo accused the government of playing mind games and only lifting the ban on ‘camera’ for show.


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