Turkana fishermen tell senators of exploitation by foreigners

They said that poor fishing gears, lack of fibre boats and storage facilities still hamper their trade

In Summary
  • More than 4000 fishermen have laid bare the frustrations they are facing in the hands of foreigners whom they accuse of exploiting them of the resources from Lake Turkana.
  • The fishermen told the Senate Agriculture Committee how liberalized market ha
Senate Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Committee led by Sen. James Murango visit to Turkana Fisheries Cooperative Society in Lokalol, Turkana County.
Senate Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Committee led by Sen. James Murango visit to Turkana Fisheries Cooperative Society in Lokalol, Turkana County.

Fishermen in Turkana county have accused foreigners of frustrating and exploiting their resources from Lake Turkana.

The more than 4,000 fishermen said foreigners from Uganda and Congo are engaging in illegal fishing by catching underage fish.

He told the committee chaired by Kirinyaga Senator James Murango that Ugandans and Congolese are buying fish at cheaper prices.

The fishermen through their representative Sammy Emuria told the Senate Agriculture Committee that liberalised market has affected their fish trade and left them in the hands of foreign traders.

“When the government liberalized the market, it brought to us a free market which is now hurting us,” he said.

Emuria said a fish storage and processing plant funded by the Norway government has not been used since 1991 due to a disagreement between Kenya and Norway.

Another fisherman, Thomas Emoja who has been fishing in Lake Turkana for 25 years narrated how lack of fishing gears has hampered their trade.

He said wooden boats have a short life span, noting that the smaller fishing nets being supplied by the county government are enhancing fishing of undersized fish.

“I have been here for the last 25 years. As fishermen we have received very little assistance from the county government. If only the county government could assist us get fibre boats and bigger fishing nets, we can be food self-reliant in this county,” Emoja said.

The father of nine said traders from Congo pay a paltry Sh250 per kilogram of fish which they later sell at Sh800 or Sh900 per kilogram.

“If the factory is revived and is working at its optimal, we will see massive development in Kalokol. What we are asking for is that both the national and county government should work together, pump resources and revive the fish processing plant in Kalokol," he said.

Emuria wants the government to revive the fishing industry in the country.

“When the late President Mwai Kibaki came to power, he revived some key industries like the Kenya Cooperative Creameries and the Kenya Meat Commission and now they are doing well," he said.

Murango said the Senate will push for more allocation of resources to revive the fish factory and acquire modern fishing gears .

He said there is need to strengthen policies to regulate fishing in the northern lake.

He was flanked by senators Enock Wambua (Kitui), Alex Mudigi (Embu), Dan Maanzo (Makueni), Wakoli Wafula (Bungoma) and Beth Syengo (nominated) .

“Turkana County has the potential of feeding this country not only through the supply of fish, but other agricultural produce. We will do everything possible to make sure that this fish processing plant is revived so that the locals can have development,” Murango said.

The locals charged that fish farming has provided food to hundreds of families in the area, thereby reducing the famine crisis that has stricken the area for years.

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