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With Calvin Awora 

The County Government of Siaya has announced today a set of new measures aimed at promoting sustainable fishing, which is expected to unlock the Ksh 4 billion market.

As part of these measures, the county government will prioritize improving the welfare of fishers, by providing them with training for enhanced skills, advocating for safe fishing practices, and promoting value addition to increase fishers’ income and improve their livelihoods.

Siaya County Governor, H.E James Orengo emphasized that the county will work with all sector players to ensure sustainable management and development of the blue economy resources.

“Fish farming is one of the key components of our economic transformation agenda that we will continue to support in order to increase our income generation,” said Orengo when he officiated the World Fisheries Day 2023 Celebrations at Liunda Beach, Bondo Sub County.

Siaya County relies mainly on two lakes, namely Lake Victoria and Kanyaboli, for its natural fisheries resources. These two lakes contribute to over 95% of the annual fish production by weight, producing about 30,000 metric tons of fish annually and earning the fishers over Ksh 4 billion. According to the 2020 boat census, Siaya Waters of Lake Victoria has 14,708 fishing crews (5,090 crafts) that go to the lake daily for fishing.

“Therefore it is evident that the fisheries resources of Siaya County underpin the livelihoods of many residents in-terms of food and employment directly and indirectly through allied industries and support services,” said Orengo.

The County Executive Committee Member for Agriculture, Food Security, Livestock, and Blue Economy, K’Okoth Sylvestre emphasized the importance of safe and regulated fishing practices.

“Fishing practices that destroy the fishing habitat, fishing for juvenile fish or using unauthorised means must be discouraged as a way of ensuring sustainability of this resource. It is also an opportunity to focus on other livelihood options as a safety net for the increasing demand for this nutritious food,” said Sylvestre.

Expansion of fish value addition industries in the county, he said will promote sustainable fishing, citing the example of Lwanda K’Otieno Fish Processing Plant in Rarieda Sub-county, which is opening new opportunities for the profitable utilization of by-catch and low-value fish catches.

“Since these products are high-value fish-based coated products, the economic activities can offer good dividends to everyone in the production and distribution network,” said Sylvestre.

Chief Officer for Agriculture, Food Security, Livestock and Blue economy, Elizabeth Adongo said current change in climatic conditions, increasing production costs and rising population continue to make farming business in the county harder.

To address these challenges, Adongo said the Directorate of Fisheries has expanded to 42, number of fisheries staff to ensure that all farmers in the county receive individual attention. This move will help farmers to navigate the current difficulties and thrive in their business.

“We are committed to continuously look into their welfare, provide an enabling working environment and offer regular training for enhanced skills which would directly be impacted to fishing communities investments,” said Adongo.

Mining, Blue Economy and Maritime Affairs Cabinet Secretary Salim Mvurya recently announced Siaya as the official Host of the National Celebrations of World Fisheries Day 2024; and a further Budgetary allocation of Kshs. 1.5 Billion towards the development of the fish landing sites of Luanda Kotieno, Asembo Bay and Wich Lum.

To mark the World Fisheries Day 2023 celebrations, a number of activities were organized, including fish parades, boat parades, boat racing, and exhibitions. The theme of the celebrations was “Cast the Net” and aimed to promote sustainable fishing in the county.

The key event partners were the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Aquaculture Business Development Programme – ABDP, which is a partnership between the Government of Kenya and the International Fund for Agricultural Development, and the Agriculture Sector Development Support Program (ASDSP), which is a key actor in the fish value chain.

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