President Uhuru Kenyatta has ordered the Fisheries department and the National Land Commission (NLC) to recover and secure all fish landing sites in Kenya by next year.
The president noted on Monday that many of the sites and other public properties are in the wrong hands as they were acquired illegally by private developers.
Mr Kenyatta wants all the assets returned to the government by April 2019.
“I direct the fisheries department and the NLC to use the full force of the law to ensure all the fish landing sites at the Coast, in Lake Victoria, Lake Turkana and indeed any other lakes and rivers are recovered and secured by the end of the first quarter of 2019,” said President Kenyatta.
Mr Kenyatta issued the directive at the Liwatoni Fisheries Complex in Mombasa County, during the launch of the Kenya Coast Guard Service and its Mv Doria surveillance vessel.
He was with leaders including Deputy President William Ruto, Interior Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala and Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho.
He said, “I thank one of the private developers who voluntarily gave this site (Liwatoni) back to the government. The remaining ones ... we will not wait for you to give them back. We will recover them."
President Kenyatta said his government is committed to restoring the lost glory of the blue economy.
Its contribution to the country’s gross domestic product, he noted, is a "mere 2.5 percent yet we can do three times better with full exploits".
Mr Kenyatta pointed out that foreign fishermen have been using the maritime resource in Kenya’s part of the ocean.
“In our waters was the wealth for every Kenya but we lost it because we focused on benefiting ourselves and forgot about the people. We are now going to ensure our waters are well-secured for our people to benefit from our resources,” he said.
“We are aware that the ocean has also been used by drug traffickers, human traffickers and for other illegal activities. All these activities will be dealt with by our new team, which will also seal all the gaps left by maritime security,” he said.
President Kenyatta further said the Kenyan shipping line will partner with Mediterranean Sea users to ensure optimal utilisation of maritime assets.
“This will contribute to the development of our economy. We will be able to create 10,000 directs jobs through trans-shipment and put our resources to full use,” he said.
President Kenyatta said the economy will also benefit from the upgrading of the port of Mombasa and the establishment of ports in other parts of the country.
He said the agriculture sector will also be revived.
“If we put in use our limited resources, we will open ourselves up to many opportunities that will benefit the youth and all other people," he said.
The coast guard will be headed by Brigadier Victor Naisho Loonena.
It comprises personnel from the police, army and intelligence services and civilian professionals seconded from the Public Service Commission.
The president noted that its goals are to enhance maritime security and protect Kenya's resources.
He said officers in the special team will arrest anybody who does not comply with laws on the blue economy.