Kenya: Alarm as Dead Turtles Wash Up on Tana's Kipini Beach

(file photo).

Dead turtles and dolphins are reportedly floating towards the shores of the Indian Ocean at the Kipini waters owing to the ongoing trawler fishing activities at the sea.

This comes barely three days after the Tana River County fisheries officers, in collaboration with the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) rangers, impounded a ship with tens of kilograms of by-catch, consisting of young fish and baby sharks.

In their scaled-up patrols, KWS officials together with the Kipini Beach management unit members found two decomposing dolphins and several turtles at Shekiko Island.

According to Awadh Mbarak, an environmentalist, the trawler fishing ships have scaled up their activities at the sea, enjoying protection from some senior officials at the ministry of fisheries.

"We have channeled several complaints regarding trawler fishing in Kipini waters since 2016, written letters and sent a lot of evidence against the same ship, but this has never been addressed," he said.

Mr Mbarak noted that further patrols at Ras ya Mwana where trawlers have been spotted doing fishing at Sadani fishing grounds on Wednesday night established more shocking damage on marine life.

More dead turtles were floating towards the land while several injured turtles were swimming to land to nurse injuries.

"These trawlers have not been observing the regulations, and there is little we can do as the beach management unit, since they seem to have protection from the powers that be," he said.

Other fish species endangered by the ongoing trawler fishing activities include the saw sharks, dugong, lobster, and breeding grounds for prawns.

Kipini BMU Secretary Twaha Muhdhar noted that this illegal activity at the sea is not news to the regional fisheries officers.

He revealed that trawlers are still fishing at night despite the concerns raised about the dangers of trawling activities and numerous reports, including evidence forwarded to the respective officials.

"We are not saying they should not fish in our waters, but we want them to go beyond the five nautical miles. They are hurting young marine life and destroying rearing grounds in shallow waters," he said.

He noted that the trawlers have stretched their gadgets in Ungwana Bay, majorly known as a breeding area for rare fish species.

Mr Muhdhar called on NGOs and international organizations dealing with the conservation of marine life to support the locals in saving the marine life by ensuring the ships were observing the fishing regulations.

"It is not a battle we can win by ourselves, we do not have the muscle, but I believe with relevant groups we can get the attention of the presidents if not the cabinet Secretary," he said.

Last week a ship, MV Roberto belonging to an Italian was nabbed while engaging in illegal fishing in the shallow waters of Kipini.

The ship's captain was arrested and later released on Sh20,000 cash bail while the rest of the crew fled with the ship towards the Malindi docking station.

Community members and fishermen have urged the government to ban trawling activities to save marine life.

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