Concern over local fish industry as imports from Asia country hit Ksh1 billion
China’s fish exports to Kenya hit the Ksh1 billion mark last year, fuelling concerns that the Asian nation could flooding the local market with sea food to the detriment of local fishing industry. Kenya’s appetite for Chinese fish imports grew 60.2 per cent to Ksh1.02 billion in 2015 compared to Ksh624.1 million a year earlier, according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS).
China deeply cut its fish imports from Kenya in the same period from Ksh134.1 million to Ksh94.5 million – representing a 29.5 per cent drop. Fresh, chilled and frozen fish top the list of Chinese imports targeting Kenyan consumers, according to KNBS data.
Kenya also took in large amounts of smoked fish, dried and salted fish from the Asian country. KNBS data indicates that the combination of local supply shortfalls and the surge in demand were the key drivers of the rising imports from low-cost markets such as China.
China mainly exports tilapia to Kenya, which is priced up to a fifth of locally produced fish, according to dealers.
One such dealer is Nairobi-based East African Sea Food Limited (EASF), whose manager Arnold Ganapathy acknowledged importing fish from China and promised to share the volume and value of the fish consignment ordered at any given time.
Demand for fish, widely considered nutritious, has jumped in Kenya, outstripping supply. Kenyans are on average consuming seven kilogrammes of fish per person yearly, up from two kilos in 2008, according to the Fisheries department, raising demand pressure amid dwindling supply.
Kenya’s fish production declined 14.3 per cent to 144,300 tonnes last year compared to 168,400 tonnes in 2014, KNBS data shows. The biggest drop came from Lake Victoria – Kenya’s largest source of fish.