Fish Export has killed Traditional Processing in Kenya

The export-oriented fishing industry has in a profound way affected the traditional methods of preserving fish.

A survey conducted by journalists and experts in a two-day field excursion sponsored by International Union Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in conjunction with Health and Environmental Media Network (HEMNet) in beaches a long Suba District established that kiln method of preserving fish is no longer existing and women left with no source of income.

The people that engaged in fish processing in Lake Victoria are women and the development of Nile perch export has led to lose of jobs in the traditional processing sectors.

Most fish processors a long the beaches said Nile Perch is being transported directly to the factories where it is being filleted and frozen.

The fish processors only process the juvenile Nile Perch which is being caught and the damaged Nile perch which the purchasing agents of the factories reject.

“Thousands of fish processors have lost their jobs as the processing factories have expanded their operations,” said Janet Atieno at Kolunga beach in Rusinga Island.

Dr. Richard Abila a researcher at Kenya Marine and Fisheries Institute, who also attended the excursion, said the number of people employed in the factories is very small compared to the number who lost their jobs in the traditional processing industry.

“Three quarters of the jobs created by the fish processing factories are casual, temporary, low paying and have no long-term benefits”, he said.

He urged that the fisheries policy should be re-focused to put greater emphasis on maximization of export capacity.

“Limitation of fish export should be focused as the fishermen help in implementation. This will help revive traditional methods of preserving fish,” he said.

Joseph Ojwang is a free-lance journalist. He contributed above article to Media Monitors Network (MMN) from Kenya, Africa.