Lamu,KENYA:The six year old night fishing ban in Lamu County has now been lifted by the national government.
The ban was imposed in 2011 specifically in Kiunga,Lamu East and areas bordering the Lamu-Somalia border including Ishakani, Mkokoni, Kiwayu and Kizingitini following a spate of Al-Shabaab terror incidents that saw several tourists and fishermen often kidnapped and taken hostage by Alshabaab militants.
Speaking in Lamu on Monday,Linda Boni operations director James Seriani confirmed the ban had been lifted officially starting May 1 and that fishermen would now be allowed to go on night fishing expeditions.
Seriani however said they would now intensify sea security patrols in order to ensure only fishing takes place during the night.
“Fishermen can from today go on night fishing as long as the law is observed and respected.We have also intensified sea patrols by KDF,Navy,KWS and the entire police service here,”said Seriani.
He however said there were new regulations that the fishermen will be required to strictly adhere to in order to be allowed to operate on the Lamu waters.
According to Serian,the fishermen will now be required to process a special ID card which they are expected to always carry along whenever they venture out fishing.
He said the processing of the cards is in their final stages and that fishermen will receive them once they are ready.
Currently, fishermen in Lamu are required to carry with them their national identity cards before they are allowed to fish during daytime,a move they said was unnecessary.
He said the special IDs will enable the security office to keep tabs of the fishermen, their movements and their exact locations once they venture onto the Indian Ocean.
He said the fishermen will also be required to form beach management units-BMUs where they will be required to report all their movements.
In turn, the BMUs will be required to submit a daily report to the security office on the movements of each and every fisherman for assessment.
There is need for the fishermen to be monitored because previously, police had discovered that Al-Shabaab recruiting agents posing as fishermen were operating on the Lamu waters with the main objective of coercing and luring Lamu youth into joining the terror group after which the recruits would be secretly ferried on fishing boats into Somalia.
“Fishermen will not be required to carry their national IDs once we have these new special IDs.Introduction of IDs and BMUs will make it easy for individuals with bad intentions including crossing over to Somalia to join Al-Shabaab to be identified and arrested by security agencies.the security office will also to be able to identify any suspicious activity and be able to separate the chaff from the grain,” said Seriani.
The lifting of the night fishing ban is a relief to 6000 fishermen who had borne the brunt of the ban including having to deal with the invasion of their fish markets by Somalia fishermen who have been selling their fish after the fish shortage became unbearable.