President Uhuru Kenyatta is pushing his case for the world’s most industrialised nations to act against illegal sea fishing in African waters.
At the G7 Summit in Charlevoix in Quebec, Canada, where he has been invited to speak, the President was meeting other African leaders to push for a concerted argument against depletion of fish in the continent.
“Every one in five fish eaten in a Western capital is likely stolen from African waters. [The] President will seek support to hold accountable those who fish illegally, with illegal gear and without licence,” State House Spokesman Manoah Esipisu said.
While the G7 is a club of the world’s most industrialised nations, President Kenyatta has been invited to give an outsider’s view of subjects to be discussed.
Comprised of the US, UK, Canada, Japan, France, Germany and Italy, the G7 is this time discussing global challenges such as gender equality, climate change, security and the blue economy (resources from the seas).
On Saturday, the President will address the G7 on protecting and preserving the oceans, under the theme “Healthy, Productive and Resilient Oceans and Seas, Coasts and Communities”.
In 2014, President Kenyatta argued that Kenya loses Sh10 billion from illegal fishing in its exclusive economic zone.
Studies done by the University of British Columbia in Canada said China is the foreign country profiting most from African waters by catching at least 3 million tonnes of fish a year.
And while the Chinese may have licences or arrangements with respective countries to fish, there is debate on whether the methods used are sustainable.
“We also need the G7 to publicly acknowledge that protecting the oceans is our shared responsibility,” added Mr Esipisu.
FISH FOR CHINA
In 2017, the Nation Newsplex found that African waters constitute the largest distant water source of fish to China, more than Asia, where China landed one million tonnes, Oceania (980,000 tonnes), Central and South America (182,000 tonnes) and Antarctica (48,000 tonnes) the same year.
In Kenya, where the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) says the Indian Ocean could sustainably provide up to 300,000 tonnes of fish a year, the country only collected just under 10, 000 tonnes or a sixth of what Tanzania caught.
Some challenges have been cited in regard to fishing in Kenya.
First, Kenyan fishermen cannot compete with the foreign illegal fishers.
They are also ill-equipped to respond.
A FAO report indicates that in 2014, the year the President first called for responsible fishing, more than half of the 3,000 recorded Kenyan vessels were dugout canoes or dhows.
That year, the government had allocated Sh400 million for the development of deep sea fishing as well as surveillance against illegal fishing.
The programme has not yet taken off.
At the G7 in Quebec, Canada, the President was on Friday evening meeting with other African leaders invited to the Summit “to align the continent’s message”.
Kenya will in November this year host its inaugural Oceans Summit to discuss better and greater exploitation of the seas.
But it appears each country is here for own interests. Senegal, Rwanda and South Africa are some of the other African countries invited.
President Paul Kagame of Rwanda is the chairman of the African Union and has been pushing for reforms to ensure the continental body is weaned from the nipple of dependency to the West.
In a meeting ahead of the main event, the leaders were expected to push their own agenda as well as a common stand on the African situation.
“The President is meeting his colleagues from the continent to discuss AU reforms and how they fit in with UN reforms. There are also discussions on solid waste management challenges, and women and girls empowerment.
In the context of G7, women and girls considered as vanguard in protection of oceans. So how they must be empowered is what the President is concerned about,” Mr Esipisu said.
The President was also expected to meet with leaders from Germany, Norway, Canada and Japan.