Good morning, friends,·

It’s my pleasure to be here today. Receive my greetings from Kenya. Hamjambo?·

I can tell you for a fact that as a Kenyan I’m glad Kenya had the honor to co-host The Ocean Conference, alongside the Government of Kenya and Portugal. It happens at an inflection point – when the world is coming to terms with the accelerated impact of the long Covid-19.·

Importantly, the inherent problems of most societies, especially those that derive their livelihood from the ocean – which include the communities I lead back at home, were severely exposed by the pandemic. I’m happy to note that this Conference, among many things, will help to curate concrete data-driven and innovative solutions on sustainable ocean management.·

This being the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, I am excited to see the progressive efforts that countries are putting to sustainably manage the ocean and more importantly to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.·

Kenya, for instance, has repositioned Blue Economy growth as an enabler of its long-term Vision 2030 economic blueprint, rightfully so. It is estimated that Kenya’s Blue Economy, and its 142,400 square kilometre Exclusive Economic Zone has the capacity to contribute three times its current share of Gross Domestic Product, if well utilized.·

It is for these reasons that Kenya hosted Africa’s first Sustainable Blue Economy conference in Nairobi in 2018, to cement its commitment to the agenda.·

Further, Kenya has been working to align its Maritime Security structures with the ever-growing global Marine security challenges. As part of this, four years ago, Kenya launched the Kenya Coast Guard Service to help increase efficiency in protection of maritime resources.·

The Council of Governor’s Blue Economy Committee, which I chair, has since 2021 shepherded the Blue Growth Agenda between counties and the national government, specifically the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and employment.·

As a leader whose many of the people I serve are engaged in fishing activities, I understand first-hand the impact the region can have in the national and global economy. Lamu County, where I come from is a fishing hub that produces over 9300MT of fish annually, and 70% of the national crustacean (lobsters, crabs) catch in Kenya. It makes no sense that our smallholder fishermen continue to weather tough socio-economic conditions, similarly for fishermen nationally. It requires that we work tirelessly to change their status quo.·

The recent capitalization of Blue Economy sector opportunities by the Kenyan government in Lamu County speaks to these reforms. KES 1 billion (EUR 7.7 million, USD 9 million) has been set aside for development of a fish processing plant in Lamu County. it is part of KES 10.7 billion (USD 98 million, EUR 83 million) national financing strategy in the sector.·

The investment into Lamu County’s new Deep Sea Port infrastructure (LAPSSET) is another great step. This opportunity opens up the region, allowing transportation and marketing of fisheries products, promote fishing programs, open up space for larger vessels to dock, for repair, maintenance, replenishing of stock and offloading their catch.·

The Kenyan Government has set aside Ksh 1.76 billion to compensate thousands of fishermen in traditional fishing grounds who have been pervasively affected by dredging activities at the new port.·

For instance, under fisheries and economies, my County Government continues to build the capacity of the artisanal fishers to venture into deep sea fishing as well supported fishers with sustainable fishing gears and equipment which have increased fish production. We have also offered these subsidies it has waived loans owned by fishers through a revolving fund established earlier to incentivize them to catch more fish and get better income. Further, fish cold chain is also being developed through construction of ice and cold room facilities.·

At the small/county government level, we county of Lamu is making all efforts to scale the benefits of this economy to smallholder fishermen. For instance, we are developing small scale tuna and tuna-like species fishing to boost the small-scale fishers’ economies. The fishermen are being capacity built through Beach Management Units (BMUs) to access fish rich Kenyan Northern Banks which have been the domain of Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUUs) fishing.·

In addition, a marine spatial plan is under way to guide on exploitation of the blue economy resources. Fish value addition initiatives have been started to increase fish shelf life, value and income. A Fish cooperative movement is being strengthened to ensure smooth and orderly accessibility of fish products to the market and control of exploitative middleman.·

The county also embarked on development of mangrove management plans to guide sustainable exploitation on these very valuable habitats. Importantly, there has been revision and development of new fisheries regulatory frameworks to ensure access rights to the locals and sustainable exploration of the blue resources.·

As we work towards a sustainable ocean use, we call on partners to find the opportunities therein for a collaborative partnership.·

Asanteni sana