The National Assembly’s Committee on Agriculture is set to introduce legislation in Parliament seeking to ban the importation of fish from Asian countries, among them China. The move will protect the local farmers and ensure that the foreign nations do not exploit fishing resources.
“We have to protect our resources and fishermen, who must get the maximum benefit out of the natural resources we have,” a member of the committee said.
In February 2021, Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya said Kenya’s deep waters are being exploited by foreign industrial fishing vessels because local fishermen cannot work in those waters.
Global Fish Watch tracker report indicates that large vessels from Italy, China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong dominated the Kenyan waters between May and August. The vessels recorded approximately 50,000 hours within their water borders.
Early in 2019, the Kenyan government imposed a ban on Chinese fish following concerns over China’s devastation of Kenya’s traditional fishing economy and the dangers of eating Chinese fish.
The Communist Party responded by branding Kenyan officials’ reasonable concerns a “trade war.” Also, Beijing threatened to cut funding for Kenyan Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects. The ban barely lasted through February of that year.
Since then, imports have been on the rise. Currently, fishmongers from various parts of the country supplement their daily stock with the imported fish. In addition, traders opt for the Chinese fish, which have flooded the local markets with low prices.
Kenya began to import Chinese fish in large quantities in mid-2010 in response to low fish stocks in Lake Victoria. China has been the leading country globally in fish exports, ranking 70 percent of shipments in 2020.
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