Kenya is set to establish a fisheries crime law enforcement academy to build capacity to fight fisheries crimes which account for Sh10 billion in losses every year.
The academy will be hosted at the University of Nairobi and is a collaboration between Kenya's Fisheries Department and the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.
The programme is aimed at fighting a wide range of fisheries crimes such as illegal unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and other serious offences occurring throughout the fisheries value chain both at sea and on land such as document fraud, human trafficking and corruption.
Kenya's marine fishery potential is estimated to be between 150,000 and 300,000 metric tons, but the country's current annual fish production from small scale and traditional fishers is only about 8,000 metric tons largely because of the exploitation by IUU fishing.
Fisheries Principal Secretary Prof Japhet Ntiba said that the aim of the fisheries crime law enforcement academy is to build local law enforcement expertise and strengthen cooperation between agencies, domestically and cross-border, towards enhanced law enforcement in addressing fisheries crimes.
"Fisheries Crimes Law Enforcement Academy aims to translate into practice the fisheries crime law enforcement model which promotes use of all relevant laws, administrative and criminal, as entry points for initial detection of fisheries crimes and subsequent investigation and prosecution of such crime, particularly that which is transnational and organized," said Prof Ntiba.
The principal secretary added that the government has also undertaken other measures to fight the crime such as procurement of offshore patrol vessel (OPV) to build capacity to conduct fisheries monitoring, control and surveillance in the East African coast which is a hotspot for illegal and unregulated fishing.
"The commissioning of the OPV will be a major boost for securing Kenyan Exclusive Economic Zone. This is a prerequisite as Kenya ushers in the industrial fisheries in the deep sea that will boost the country's fisheries revenue and create employment," said the PS.
He further said that the Fisheries Management and Development Act, 2016 has given legal backing to initiatives that support the development and management of fisheries resources particularly in the creation of Kenya Fisheries Service which has an enforcement arm to curb fisheries crimes.
Later this month, high level stakeholders' drawn from South Africa, Tanzania, Indonesia and Somalia will meet in Mombasa to obtain political buy-in of relevant government departments and agencies and also request the target countries to commit to the implementation of the fish academy within their jurisdictions.