Fishermen in Lamu want the national government to stop traders from Somalia and Tanzania flooding the Kenyan market with their fish.
They say the foreigners are killing the sector by selling their stocks at “ridiculously low prices” leaving Kenyans with no customers.
Lamu Fishermen Association chairperson Mohamed Ali said at least 6,000 Kenyan fishermen from the island have been affected.
They are now calling on the government to ban fish from Somalia and Tanzania sold in Kenya.
President Uhuru Kenyatta recenttly banned importation of fish from China noting that the imports were stifling the local market.
Speaking during a crisis meeting in Lamu yesterday, Ali said Lamu produces enough fish for the local market but competition from the Somalia and Tanzania fish is making it difficult for the industry to thrive.
Ali said Kenyan fishermen from Lamu now have no market for their produce and are forced to adapt to the low standards set by their counterparts from the two countries.
“We could co-exist with the fishermen from Somalia and Tanzania if at all there was a deficit in the market that we were unable to deal with. But as it is right now, Lamu is producing enough fish both for our local and national markets and therefore the fact that we are now competing for markets with the guys from Somalia and Tanzania is outright unfair,” he said.
“The situation is so bad and is killing our venture. We wish the President would do what he did with the fish from China so we can recover from all this.”
The fishermen called on the county government to formulate laws and regulations that would prohibit foreigners from fishing in Lamu waters and selling their catch within the county.
An active night fishing ban on border areas of Kiunga and Ishakani has also impacted on them negatively.
Ahmed Omar, a fisherman from Kiunga, says their situation has worsened.
“The ban has hindered us from increasing our catch, most of which would happen at night and that’s why foreigners felt there’s a gap for them to come and take advantage of the situation. These guys are enriching themselves at our own expense but there’s nothing we can do unless the government decides to lift the ban,” said Omar.
The fishermen also urged both the county and national governments to help them purchase modern fishing equipment to enable them fish in deeper sections of the ocean.
The majority of local fishermen still use traditional techniques including dhows instead of high powered speedboats that would make them more efficient.