A new dawn has come to fishermen in Kilifi after Kilifi County governor aspirant George Kithi committed to address the challenges they are facing in the fishing industry.

The fishermen had decried a myriad of challenges that have contributed to heavy losses in the county’s fishing industry.

They cited lack of fish storage refrigerators, lack of modern fishing equipment, lack of  life jackets among other misfortunes.

Responding to the cries at Old Ferry where the fishermen merged to express their grievances to him, George Kithi told the residents that harnessing the blue economy in the county is in his top agenda should he be elected the governor.

Kithi said that his government will establish four fish ports in Kilifi, Malindi, Mtwapa and Takaungu to create better landing sites for fish so that the fishermen can realize their full potential in the industry.

He said that through the blue economy agenda, the fish ports will create adequate jobs to young people since fishing is one of the backbones of Kilifi county’s economy.

“The four sites my administration will establish in Kilifi county will enable vessels and crews to easily access crucial services and supplies and also help the fishing crew to maximize their produce”, Kithi added.

“It is my main agenda to revamp the blue economy and through my governance, the fishing sector will be able to create more than 60,000 jobs for the people in Kilifi”, he said.

He added that his administration will create women economic empowerment in the region who will be subjected to entrepreneurship training.

“The women in this Coast-line will be taken through entrepreneurial trainings so that they can rise from their normal small scale fish trade to large scale. This, we will do here in Kilifi without having to go all the way to institutions in Mombasa and other counties”, he said.

Kithi also acknowledged poor infrastructure and uncommon markets in the fish industry as some of the challenges that he plans to address in his administration.

While speaking at Old Ferry in Kilifi where Kithi met at least 500 fish folks, the area chairperson Henry Mzungu, said that the fishing industry is at the brink of collapse due to the challenges which have negatively impacted their livelihoods.

Mzungu said that a number of fishermen risk losing their lives when they go fishing in the deep sea without life jackets, referring to recent deaths of four fishermen that occurred in the region.

“Just recently, we lost four fishermen who had gone to fish without life jackets and could not be saved in time”, Mzungu said.

He said that lack of refrigerators has contributed to huge losses especially during this Kusi season as many fish go stale if they are not stored in the freezers.

“We need a cold store in order to preserve our fish. So far the fish spoil as we do not have enough refrigerators”, he said.

He added that most fishermen cannot afford fishing licenses and those who own fishing vessels are not able to register them with the Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) as stipulated.

According to Rukia Pambajuma, women leader at the Kilifi Port Old Ferry, the challenges have immensely affected women since they can not only attend to their children at home but also they can’t provide for their needs despite spending long hours at work.

“The schools have opened but our children are home due to lack of school fees, no thanks to the challenges we are facing in this fish industry that”, Pambajuma Said.

Pambajuma revealed that most of them are uneducated and therefore if the challenges are not urgently addressed, their livelihood will be deteriorated.

They now want leaders to intervene and address the challenges.

“As fishermen, we are pleading with the incoming leaders to come to our aid in revamping our economy because this ocean is the main resource we depend on to make a living”, Mzungu said.

“We are electing leaders, but we will only appreciate those who will stand with fishermen to tackle the problems we are facing. We want the leaders to intervene in reducing the cost registration of boats and also help us acquire the legal fishing certificates”, he added.

By Treeza Auma

Treeza Auma is a Digital Content Producer and founder of https://www.ktmn.co.ke KTMN She is also Television journalist at Kenya News Agency and Leadership Accelerator at Women in News.

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