Kilifi residents decry destruction of mangrove in Maya island

Maya Island in Kilifi. PHOTO: DAVID NGUMBAO.

Kilifi, KENYA: Residents and environmental conservation groups in Maya Island in Kilifi County are crying foul over the destruction of Mangrove forest cover in the area.

The groups say the government has failed to intensify forest surveillance to curb the destruction of mangroves, something that threatens the future of mangroves in the area.

Speaking to Baraka FM on Thursday, Caxton Chivatsi, Careway Trust coordinator, said loggers are targeting the mangroves for poles and rafters.

“We have been trying tooth and nail to reclaim some of the areas which have been destructed by the illegal loggers but our efforts have proved futile as they are now targeting the reclaimed acres,” Chivatsi said.

“They have normally been cutting the poles during low tide and transport them to the Kilifi mainland during high tide,” he added.

According to Chivatsi, the group has reclaimed over five acres of mangrove forest cover that had earlier been devastated.

Jackson Chai, Ganze sub county beach management unit (BMU) chairman, told Baraka FM that the destruction of mangroves has led to the decline of fish stocks in the area.

He noted that, artisanal fishermen from the area lack modern fishing gear hence depend on nearshore fishing.

“You see, the destruction of mangroves has underwritten to the poverty index of the area as fishing is our main economic activity because we scarcely get a sustainable amount of fish,” Chai said.

“We used to get over ten Kilograms of fish per fishing expedition but that’s a history now,” he added.

He called on the government to provide them with a patrol boat to guard the mangroves.

Ganze BMU secretary Samson Ndaa has however urged the County Government to crack down on fishermen using illegal fishing gear in the area as some fishermen use mosquito nets to fish.

“You see, these mosquito nets catch even fingerlings which is dangerous in terms of fish production,” Ndaa reiterated.

“As a Unit we have tried to plant mangroves and also sensitize the community on better fishing methods but we lack the capacity to patrol the whole area and that’s why we are calling on the government to enforce environmental laws to save this community,” he added.

The area has eight species of mangrove.

According to Chivatsi, the area used to be a breeding area for turtles and giant crabs.

“Some of these species have medicinal values that we are now trying to research on and also shields us from the harsh ocean,” Chivatsi said.

“The seahorse used to be in plenty and that’s why there is a hotel with that name in Kilifi but that fish can no longer be found in the area,” he added.

The Kilifi county government has procured two patrol boats but were distributed to Kilifi and Watamu BMUs.