Monday, 27 January 2014

President Kenyatta commissions marine research vessel in Mombasa

President Uhuru Kenyatta has called for county governments to work closely with the national government in order to deliver on the development pledges to Kenyans.
Speaking at the port of Mombasa where he commissioned a research vessel donated by Belgium, the President told senators and MPs to rise above partisan politics and support laws that will transform the country and improve livelihoods.
“The Legislature should work with the Executive on transformative laws that will bring tangible development and transform the country,” the President said. He asked the Senate to enact laws that ensure prudent use of public resources by county governments.
President Kenyatta also welcomed the proposal by sea-fishing counties to work together with the national government on policing of the Kenyan seas and clamp down on rampant drug trafficking in the coast region.
The Head of State was commissioning the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute’s RV Mtafiti, a vessel to be used for fisheries research and conservation of marine life in the Indian Ocean that was donated by the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) and the Fund for Scientific Research in Belgium.
The 56 metre-long Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV), the largest of its kind in the region, will undertake physical, chemical, geological and biological oceanography research besides carrying out fisheries stock assessment within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
President Kenyatta said the vessel will also be utilised for exploratory experimental fishing to establish suitable means for the optimal exploitation of marine fisheries, and that the vessel would go a long way in improving the country’s capacity to safeguard its marine resources against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
President Kenyatta said lack of an offshore research vessel for oceanographic study and stock assessment has been a major obstacle to research and management of marine stocks.
“Our monitoring, control and surveillance of these fisheries will now be improved by the offshore patrol vessel,” the President said.
He stressed the importance of oceanographic research to government institutions concerned with deep-sea resources, county governments and private investors undertaking sea-farming or other marine ventures.
The President regretted the loss of billions of shillings to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. The figure was estimated at Sh12 billion by the Marine Fisheries Taskforce four years ago.
President Kenyatta also noted that the country's marine fisheries contribute only five percent of the 174,000 tonnes of local fish produced, despite the waters off the coast being a large and rich fishing area, saying local fishermen had been confined to near-shore coastal waters due to their lack of deep-sea fishing equipment leaving the marine exclusive economic zone for exploitation by other nations.
The government was aware of the challenges facing the local fishing industry, the President said, and was exploring the feasibility of increasing production from Kenya’s waters in the Indian Ocean, adding that funds have been made available for an additional offshore patrol vessel which will soon be deployed.
“We are a significant maritime nation. Though no complete stock assessment has been carried out, various studies show that this fishery is under-exploited,” said the President.
Kilifi governor Amason Kingi said the five sea-fishing county governments will work with the national government on policing the maritime borders.
Mr Kingi said the county and national governments would also work together on a special police unit to check on illegal fishing and drug trafficking.
West Flanders governor Carl Decaluwe said partnerships between his regional government and Kenya have been developed on joint marine research, exchange of expertise and capacity building and gave assurances that the donated vessel was mechanically sound.
He added that better knowledge of marine resources was a key contributor to Kenya’s economic development and thanked the President for his steadfast support of the project