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Commercial oyster farming along the Kenyan Coast: a case study on sustainable exploitation of a natural resource and community development
Goyvaerts, E (1995). Commercial oyster farming along the Kenyan Coast: a case study on sustainable exploitation of a natural resource and community development. MSc Thesis. Concordia International University: Montreal. 95 pp.

Thesis info:
    Concordia International University, Business Administration

Available in Author 
    VLIZ: Non-open access 246990
Document type: Dissertation

    Business administration; Oyster culture; ISW, Kenya, Gazi Bay [Marine Regions]; Marine; Fresh water
Author keywords

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  • Goyvaerts, E

    Ten years ago, the Free University of Brussels (VUB) engaged together with the Kenyan Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI) in joint research on the understanding of the Kenyan marine ecosystem. The East African continental shelf entailing the areas of intense biological activity and high productivity, is very narrow, resulting in relatively poor fisheries compared to elsewhere; hence, a strong need for sustainable resource management arises. The 550 km long Kenyan coast is characterized by extensive tropical mangroves expanding over an estimated 62,027 ha. Mangroves develop where a fresh water influx lowers the salt concentration of the sea water; they are cultivated by salt tolerant tree species adapted to these extreme conditions. The mangroves play very important roles in the settlement of sediment from the (seasonal) rivers preventing muddling of the seagrass beds, corals, and white sandy beaches, in nearshore nutrient enrichment and filtering, as breeding, feeding, and nursery grounds of economically important finfish, crustaceans and shellfish, as shelter and roosting sites for a variety of wildlife and in shoreline stabilization, flood mitigation and in protection of the hinterlands from saline intrusion. Furthermore, the mangroves provide food, fuel, building materials, medicinal plants, cattle fodder and for honey production (Semesi and Howell, 1992). The rural areas of the less developed country, Kenya, with a GDP per capita of below 675 U$ in 1994 (Economic Survey, 1995), are characterized by high illiteracy and unemployment, poor health, water and energy facilities. Chronic underfeeding, infectious and parasitic diseases such as malaria in the coastal regions, slow down the population. Economic activity consists mainly of subsistence fishing and agriculture. The lack of income and thus savings and investment lay at the basis of the recurrent poverty and bleak future. The absence of employment opportunities find their origin in (1) the loss of artisanal methods due to the increased influx of first world products with strong promotion and at low prices, (2) lack of resource management, resulting in overexploitation and reduced availability of resources. The complexity of the mangroves makes attempts to manage it sustainably extremely challenging. No national authority exists in Kenya which can effectively resolve conflicting issues related to conservation and development. Limited funding of the Kenyan government departments and the high dependency for survival of the exploiters make a halt to overexploitation extremely difficult to enforce. Creation of awareness among the villagers for the need of sustainable management of their coastal resources has to go hand in hand with the creation of alternative income generating activities and a chance to ameliorate the living standard of the next generation through education. Capital input and entrepreneurship lay at the basis of rural development. In order to create employment and a chance for development for a large proportion of the population with the limited available capital of Kenya, the capital labor ratio has to be kept low. The establishment of oyster farming as a community project is such an initiative. This study aims to contribute to a working paper for action that discusses strategies to attain commercialization and expansion of oyster farming along the Kenyan coast. Hence, it addresses the question. Is commercial oyster farming feasible? While respecting the central objectives of oyster farming: (1) sustainable exploitation of the mangrove ecosystem, (2) community development and, (3) national and international commercialization of the Kenyan mangrove oyster. This question is addressed based upon a sketching of the history, structures and productivities of the existing oyster farms in Kenya (chapter II, information on the project), reasons that have limited the expansion (chapter III, origin of the problem) and the underlying criteria of attainment of the central objectives (chapter IV, details of the problem). The final chapter V (solution to the problem) presents the working paper.

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