|Dilemma of small-scale fishers at the dawn of industrial fishing in Kenya conference organized at IIT Madras Chennai, India, 9 – 13 October 2001|
Mucai Muchiri, S. (2001). Dilemma of small-scale fishers at the dawn of industrial fishing in Kenya conference organized at IIT Madras Chennai, India, 9 – 13 October 2001. International Ocean Institute (IOI): India. 8 pp.
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People of the Kenya coast have lived off the Indian Ocean for as long as memory can go. Folklore and legend reflect a history of dependence on the sea for livelihood, including fisheries. Due to technological limitation coupled with small human populations, harvesting from the sea had little effect in the past. Fishermen relied on simple fishing gear operated either from the shore or from dug-out and small planked canoes to supply needs of their families. In the past three decades, human populations have increased tremendously leading to greater demands for marine fisheries products. Introduction of cash economy has also triggered the need for more efficient methods of fish capture to supply the new higher demand. Unfortunately, local fishers have not been able to participate effectively in supplying this new demand. The main reason for this handicap, is their inability to match the rapidly developing fishing technology. Introduction of mechanised fishing by ‘outsiders’ has been seen by some members of the local communities as a boon in the sense that more employment opportunities have been created. This section of the communities argue that mechanised fishers are able to exploit areas of the sea that local fishers are unable to venture into. On the other hand, mechanised fishers, especially trawlers, have often been accused of overexploitation of the resource to a point that some species of fish cherished by local communities have altogether disappeared. Trawler operators have also been blamed for destruction of small-scale fishermen’s gear leading to huge losses. This paper discusses the difficulties that communities of the Kenya coast are facing with the introduction of mechanised fishing. The paper also describes an on-going initiative aimed at resolving mounting conflict in the marine fisheries of Kenya.