President Uhuru Kenyatta during the launch of the Kenya Coast Guard Service at Liwatoni in Mombasa.

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday directed the State Department of Fisheries and the National Land Commission to repossess all public fish landing sites that were illegally acquired by unscrupulous people.

The President said that all gazetted fish landing sites at the coast, in lakes Victoria and Turkana and any other lakes or rivers in the country should be recovered and secured by the end of March 2019.

“I direct the fisheries department and the NLC to use the full force of the law to ensure all the fish landing sites at the Coast, in Lake Victoria, Lake Turkana and indeed any other lakes and rivers are recovered and secured by the end of the first quarter of 2019,” he said.

At the same time, President Kenyatta praised a local firm, One Holding Limited, for voluntarily returning Liwatoni fish landing site to the Government and urged other people who have illegally acquired such facilities to also surrender before Government takes action to repossess them.

The President was speaking when he launched the Kenya Coast Guard Service at Liwatoni in Mombasa County where he also signed two executive orders establishing the Kenya Fisheries Corporation and the Bandari Maritime Academy which will be critical in revitalizing the Blue Economy in Kenya.

Earlier, President Kenyatta witnessed the offloading of 150 tonnes of various types of fish worth Ksh 30 million. At the event also attended by the Deputy President William Ruto, the President said the Coast Guard Service shall, in cooperation with other national security organs, safeguard Kenya’s territorial waters.

“For too long we have experienced multiple problems with marine security including illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing by foreign trawlers, smuggling of contraband goods, degradation of marine ecosystems through discharge of oil, toxic waste dumping and the destruction of coral reefs and coastal forests,” said the President.

President Kenyatta noted that the country loses Ksh 10 billion annually through illegal fishing. The Head of State said that apart from illegal fishing, the country and the region faces other security concerns such drug and human trafficking and trans-shipment of illegal arms which come through the sea because of lack of proper surveillance mechanisms.

“The Coast Guard will ensure that our ocean will no longer be used by drug and human traffickers, illegal arms dealers and illegal fishing vessels. It will guard against exploitation of our natural resources by foreign countries and ensure that never again will a foreign vessel steal our fish,” he said.

Saying the ocean is the emerging frontier for economic and social transformation of sea-facing states, President Kenyatta reiterated that Kenya was well positioned to emulate other countries that had excelled in the utilization of maritime resources.

“Our coastal and inland waters cover 222, 950 square kilometers, equivalent to 31 counties; of the global tuna catch of 4.35 million metric tons — worth about US $2-3 billion annually — one quarter is caught off Kenya’s coastline,” said the President. The President announced that within the next five years, the government intends to create over 10,000 jobs through the establishment of trans-shipment and logistics hubs in Mombasa and Lamu.

“We will create a destination port for cruise ships, establish world-class training facilities in maritime studies, have a fully-fledged and operational national shipping line by urgently reviving the Kenya National Shipping Line,” said the President.

He said by strengthening the cruise-shipping sector, the country would create seafaring jobs, jump start coastal agriculture and agro-processing.

Ruto said the launch of the Coast Guard Service is a historic milestone which will transform the country’s economy for current and future generations. “Government efforts to revive the Blue Economy is about enhancing our manufacturing sector, job creation and food security which are at the heart of the Big 4 agenda,” said the Deputy President.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i assured that the government will protect fishermen and Kenya’s marine resources and deal firmly with all criminal acts in Kenyan waters.

“We will not negotiate on our marine resources and our territorial security. From today we have assembled tools and coalesced resources within our security service to enable the Kenya Coast Guard Service to fully perform its functions,“ he said.

 

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