We are happy to be part of this milestone today.
Coastal Counties; Kilifi, Kwale, Tana River, Lamu and Mombasa fully understand how much the economic revival of the region is pegged on the Blue Economy and its related sectors, partly, if not chiefly the reason for the design of the Kenya-European Union (EU) Go Blue Programme launch today.
This launch is coming at a timely moment, when Coastal counties are directing post-pandemic recovery efforts towards small holder cottage industries. Precisely, these men and women in these sectors , are not only essential to food security in this grave health, social, environmental and economic crisis, but also have to be prioritized in policy-and decision-making.
The Blue economy sector, is a sector that has truly suffered the brunt of the COVID-19 crisis. It is estimated that globally, it will lose at least a third of its $2.5 Trillion total value and an attrition of its 3.5-7% contribution to the global Gross domestic product (GDP). In Kenya, the fisheries sector has been vulnerable to a cascading domino effect of factors, which start all the way from from the global markets and touch on the small-scale fisherman in Kenya.
For instance, globally, debarring of live fish trade at the international market, has continued to undermine the price of select fish globally and in Kenya; the ban of all international flights had paralyzed the fish export market, tourism and hospitality which is a consumer of fish and fish products; the pandemic-fueled closure of Asian markets of China, Korea, Japan and Malaysia impacted marine-fishing households at the Coastal counties.
Locally, containment and preventive strategies have limited productive fishing periods (night fishing) resulting to decline of fish harvest in fishing.
Even in the absence of scientific data on Covid-19 impact on the sector, fishing hubs like Lamu County, which have been producing over 3500MT of fish annually, and 70% of the national crustacean (lobsters, crabs) catch in Kenya, continue to weather adverse socio-economic impact.
To be specific, under the prevailing state of affairs, a kilogram of first grade lobster, previously sold for Sh. 4,500 plummeted to Sh. 600, while that of Crab tumbled to a meagre Sh.150 from between Sh.600-1000. Coupled with a reduced fresh fish consumption demand, Lamu fishermen have continued to face reduced incomes, unemployment and an upsurge in poverty levels. This is a big concern because the fisheries sector supports over 75% of Lamu’s cottage economy.
In as much as the pandemic’s impact in Lamu County is unquantifiable, it is a microcosm of the impact felt across Coastal belt fishing hub – Kwale, Kilifi, Mombasa, Kwale and Tana River, if not severe.
We are therefore happy and excited to note that this partnership between Kenya and European Union will go a long way in supporting inclusive and sustainable economic boost in Kenya’s Coastal region, with a focus on job creation and employment for young people and women.
It is my hope that as Coastal counties, we will align with the National Government and European Union accordingly, and select areas that stand to benefit our people through value addition for the posterity of national and county economies.
Thank you very much. I wish you all a great day ahead full of learning and progress.