The high cost of fuel has negatively affected the fishing industry in Malindi with traders decrying the high cost of doing business.
Fish prices have gone up as fishermen try to make profits from their trade which they claim is hurting and they are now calling on the government to reintroduce fuel subsidies to cushion them.
Traders, both at the fish landing sites and in the markets have had to minimize their business capital by purchasing fish in small quantities compared to a year ago.
A litre of petrol retails at Sh. 175 in Malindi town compared to Sh. 149 seven months ago.
Mrs Mary Mkoka, a fish trader from Kisumu Ndogo area who collects her fish stock at the Mayungu beach said that the prices of fish have almost doubled with fishermen passing the costs to traders.
“The fish prices vary from the type of fish and their weight but for almost a year now, I have been buying a kilogram of tuna fish for Sh. 250 up from Sh. 130 in the last seven months.
Apart from that, the boda boda riders have also increased fares and this has left me with few options,” she said.
Increased production cost
Mrs Mkoka now wants the government to lower the cost of fuel to cushion her from the high costs.
Mrs Rehema Deri, a fishmonger said that the prices of fish were currently unbearable and she was getting her supply at Sh. 250 per kilogram compared to Sh. 130 seven months ago.
“We depend on this trade but the situation is getting even worse since the fish stock has also dwindled and fishermen say they can’t travel far into the ocean due to the high cost of fuel,” she said.
Mr Omar Ahmed, a fisherman said that he had no option but to increase the prices of fish due to the fuel prices.
He added that the cost of fuel normally affects all sectors of the economy and that fish dealers and fish mongers had even cut down on the supply they purchase due to the high cost.
“We can’t venture very deep into the ocean because of the fuel consumption and we are cutting on costs hence we get little stock.
We used to spend Sh. 2,000 to power a single fishing boat for deep sea fishing but we no longer venture into the deep sea since we will end up spending more than Sh. 10,000 which is way too expensive for us,” he said.
He added that for deep sea fishing, one currently needs between Sh. 20,000 and Sh. 25,000 which is out of reach for many fishermen hence they have been forced to do fishing less than five kilometres from the shows.
Reduced purchasing power
Mr Ahmed said that the fish traders had drastically reduced their purchasing power because of the prices.
“The fish traders have reduced their stock due to the high cost.
We used to sell to them between Sh. 2,000 and Sh. 2,500 for ten kilograms as opposed to between Sh. 900 and Sh. 1,200 seven months ago,” he said.
Mr Juma Kasongo said that he gets his supplies between Sh. 300 and Sh. 400 and this cost is also pushed to the market.
He called on the return of the fuel subsidies which he said will stabilize fuel prices and hence reduce the cost of running the business.
“We even let the fishermen look for their own market since clients do not want to understand our plight.
The fuel subsidies should be brought back which will in turn reduce the cost of doing business,” he said.
Mr Kasongo added that fishermen fear going deep into the ocean and hence do their fishing not far from the shows and they end up getting little stock of fish which is not enough for large-scale dealers.
Mr Kalume Karani who is the chairman of the Mayungu Beach Management Unit (BMU) said that fishermen doing deep sea fishing used to consume 100 litres of petrol to power their boats to venture into the deep sea but that is not the case today.
“The 100 litres can’t take us even 10 kilometres and this has affected our trade since we are unable to reach the large fish stocks.
Each of the 50 fishing boats used to return from the sea with between two and three tons of fish but currently, we can’t even make 500 kilogrammes,” he said.
At the Alaskan market, matters are worse for both traders and consumers as they spend time arguing about the prices.
Mrs Grace Neema, a fish trader at the market said that the prices are high and consumers shy away.
“I get my supply from Mayungu between Sh. 250 and Sh. 300 depending on the type of fish and I am forced to sell to consumers for Sh. 400 for a kilo.
Initially, I used to get a bucket of fish between Sh. 500 and Sh. 600 while a kilogram went for Sh. 150,” she said and called on the government to cushion them.