The Kenya Marine Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI) is studying some commercial fish species at the Kenyan Coast.

One of the three Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute's fish cages lowered into the Indian Ocean at Mombasa's Mkomani on Friday. [Maarufu Mohamed, Standard]

In an interview with The Standard in Mkomani, KMFRI Assistant Director, Oceanography and Hydrology Joseph Kamau said the experimental research involves capturing live fish species, holding them in a cage and targeting them with soundings from a sonar gadget (EK 80).

Nairobi-based firm Geoscintex, which was contracted to assembly three special fish cages, has been installing the gadgets in the ocean around English Point in Mkomani. "The data is then analysed mathematically and a signature eco determined for the fish of interest. This signature eco will then be employed during RV Mtafiti research cruises to determine the biomass and location of commercial fish stocks within our marine waters," said Dr Kamau. He stated that the information obtained through RV Mtafiti would provide crucial data to place a value on fisheries resources in order to levy charges on commercial fishing vessels.

Poverty Eradication

"If well managed, the fisheries can be a window of opportunity for achieving national development goals including poverty eradication and wealth creation. Moreover, this huge potential is a critical vehicle for the achievement of Kenya Vision 2030 development plan," the senior scientist explained. Kamau said the productivity of the Kenyan marine fishery is constrained by a number of biophysical factors including the narrow continental shelf (estimated at 19,120km2), low productivity waters and seasonality. This, combined with increasing fishing pressure, has led to over-exploitation in many areas.

Gaining importance

Gaining importance As a result, pelagic fishery conducted by small-scale fleet (motorised boats) is increasingly gaining importance due to a decline in reef fish. "The acquisition of research vessel RV Mtafiti by the Government has provided a platform for KMFRI to venture into the expansive territorial waters and the marine Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) to explore fisheries resources," added Kamau. He said the Government had facilitated the equipping of the research vessel with state-of-the-art equipment. Among these is a hydro-acoustic sonar (EK 60) that has been employed to collect data.


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