Plans are under way to set up an academy in Mombasa to train security officers on how to combat crime on sea. Currently, police officers lack the capacity to effectively patrol the country’s territorial waters and bring law breakers to court owing to the lack of proper training and necessary equipment.

Prof Musili Wambua, an authority on marine law who teaches at the University of Nairobi and has been involved in setting up of the academy, said in an interview that: “For crime to be combated, we need trained officers who can collect, preserve and present in court evidence for someone to be prosecuted.” He said the need for the academy arose after a meeting by Interpol’s fisheries crime working group in South Africa in April last year.

Interpol, who set up an academy at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University known as FishForce, now want another institution in the East African region and Kenya will take the lead role in providing this. “After the meeting, I approached the Principal Secretary in the department of Fisheries and blue economy who embraced the idea as timely, we also briefed the Agriculture CS who assured us of his support,” Prof Wambua said.

He said the institute will undertake research “in all matters of ocean governance and generate policy which will assist the government agencies to develop the blue economy. Blue economy refers to marine-based economic development.

This comes after President Kenyatta, in September, signed into law the Fisheries Management and Development Act, 2016. It provides a framework for management, development and conservation of aquatic resources aimed at improving livelihoods of those depending on fishing. With this law, Prof Wambua said, “we are able to protect our marine resources from exploitation by other nationals at the expense of our people.”

Prof Wambua said that the country should position itself to develop a sound blue economy as there are vast untapped opportunities that it presents. This will also be aligned with vision 2030. He recommended an integrated management system of marine operations saying that the sector based management that is currently practiced leads to conflict with other departments of duplicity of duties.