Fishermen Mida Creek area in Watamu, Kilifi County have been warned against using destructive fishing methods as a way of protecting the marine ecosystem.
The Watamu Marine Park and reserve senior warden Dadley Tsiganyiu said that many local fishermen were using outlawed fishing methods and equipment hence endangering the populations of fish and other marine creatures.
He said that arresting the fishermen and imposing harsh penalties had not helped to curb the vice and that the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Watamu marine park office was now going round the villages to sensitize communities on the need to protect and conserve marine life.
Tsiganyiu said this during a public sensitization meeting at Chafisi village in Watamu municipality where he urged fishermen to form Beach Management Units (BMU)s from where their activities will be controlled.
He cited cases where some fish species had become extinct due to over fishing and fishing of fingerlings saying that Watamu was slowly losing its fishing glory.
“Some species like crabs and prawns are no longer available and hotels are forced to source them from as far as Lamu, if the trend continues then the rest of the fish species will be wiped out in the near future,” he said.
The Mida Creek marine protection area is believed to be the breeding ground for many fish species and continued unfavorable fishing activities had destroyed the breeding sites leading to many of the species to face extinction.
By joining BMUs, he added fishermen will be vetted and registered and their issues will be tackled from a central body and that guidelines will be issued to enable safe fishing habits and protection of the arine ecosystem.
“When you join BMUs, you will be able to get help in the form of modern fishing equipment not only from the government but from organizations since many of them are comfortable dealing with BMUs,” he added.
Kilifi North MP Owen Baya who was present at the meeting urged the urgency to carry out strict vetting processes for fishermen and also balance between conservation of marine life and fishing as an economic activity that feeds many people.
“I would like the KWS to engage fishermen and ensure that even as they conserve the marine ecosystem, the livelihood of fishermen is also guaranteed,” he said.He also said that he will only help fishermen who are in a recognized body to get fishing equipment from the National Government Constituency Development Fund (NGCDF).