Kenya: Tana Officials Impound Trawler Practising Illegal Fishing

Kipini Beach Management Unit Officers display a dead turtle found floating towards the Kipini beach on April 18, 2021.

Fisheries officers in Kipini, Tana River County are pursuing a ship caught practicing illegal fishing.

A prawn trawler, MV Roberto was on Sunday halted from fishing, after the local community and fishermen raised an alarm over dead turtles washing up on the shore.

According to the County fisheries director Evan Nyarango, the ship was trawling fish in shallow water around known turtle breeding sites near Ziwayu, against the fisheries management act, and was heavily loaded with illegal catch.

"They had lots of young fish including 43 young sharks on board, which is illegal as per the acts governing fishing in our country and even in the county," he said.

He noted that the vessel did not have a Turtle Excluder Device, or any type of by-catch reduction device on its netting, which is essential to prevent off-take of underage fish and globally protected turtles.

Also, the ship had an excess of crew members numbering 18 instead of the stipulated 16.

"The crew said they were after prawns, but from our investigations, we found only 10 Percent of prawns in the total catch," he said.

The officers arrested the captain of the ship who was booked at the Kipini police post hoping the ship would stay put pending further investigations.

However, one of the crew members up to the Captain's task is believed to have steered the trawler to dock towards Malindi waters.

"We have liaised with the coast guards to help us trace the ship from the Malindi side as well as take action against the crew members," said Nyarango.

The director has called on residents to remain vigilant in protecting fish landing sites along the 76km coastline in Tana River.

The Trawler's captain has since been released on Sh20,000 cash bail and is expected to take a plea at the Garsen High Court on Wednesday.

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