This article has been on the back burner for far too long and today marks the end of procrastinating this post. Without further a do let’s jump right in (maybe it should be dive right in considering it’s all things water resources, but I digress).

Gunter Pauli, an accomplished author penned a book titled The Blue Economy, 10 years -100 innovations – 100 million jobs, which captures in summary  the aforementioned, as a society’s shift from scarcity to abundance with what is locally available through tackling issues that cause environmental and related problems in new ways.

A recent report published by World Bank encapsulates sustainable development with a bias to the blue economy as both inclusive and environmentally sound and has to be undertaken in a manner that does not deplete the natural resources that societies depend on in the long-term.

Furthermore, on one of W.W.F’s releases that touches on the sustainability of the blue economy, puts forth mind boggling statistics. Key among them being,ocean assets that stand over a staggering USD 24 trillion and 67% of this require healthy and above all productive oceans.The Gross Marine Product may be considered world’s seventh largest economy.

Globally, the blue economy contributes to about USD 1.5 trillion per annum about 3% of global GDP and creates approximately 350 million jobs spanning across sub-sectors that touch directly and indirectly on marine life. Case in point, research, fishing, aquaculture, and marine tourism. The list is virtually endless.

It begs the question then, what is Africa doing about the possible potential that can be harnessed from this uncharted waters if you may. Seychelles, Mauritius, Madagascar, Union of Comoros are among African states on the Western end of the Indian Ocean that have laid out action plans to utilize the resource.

It is important to note that this part of the Indian Ocean has an estimated economic value of goods and services (in both the marine and the Coastal ecosystem) of USD 22 billion. One would wonder then, about what percentage does Kenya lay claim to? Well, it’s a paltry 20% mainly drawn from tourism.

The African agenda on the resource is enshrined in the African Union’s agenda 2063 Aspiration 1 with a specificity to Goal 6 that touches on Blue or Ocean Economy for accelerated economic growth. The main objective being marine resources and energy; marine transport and ports operations.

Sustainable Development Goal 14 is well cut out for the blue economy agenda. It puts forth aspects that touch on conservation and efficient use of oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. Therefore, there is a nexus between S.D.G 14, S.D.G 2 and S.D.G 1. Ultimately with the proper harnessing of the potential of the blue economy helps killing two birds with one stone. This include ending poverty in all its forms, ending hunger, achieving food security, improving nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture.

So what then is our motherland doing to harness this possibly overlooked category that may seemingly put an end to the cyclical budgetary deficits we’ve been experiencing. In 2006, the Government established the Department of Fisheries under the Agricultural Ministry. Its role was and not limited to policy formulation, development and implementation of all things Blue Economy.It was instrumental in formulation of the Tuna Fisheries Development and management strategy 2013-2018, upgrade fisheries from manual or traditional fishing to modern commercially oriented coastal and oceanic fisheries.

In 2016, Fisheries Management Development Act got enacted in September. Under which three authorities were established,namely Fish marketing Authority, Kenya Fisheries Service and Fisheries Advisory Council. However, their operationalization is yet to be effected.

Fish Levy Trust fund and Fisheries Development Fund came in to support fisheries management in a sustainable manner and implement obligations under international law concerning fisheries that is yet to be established.

January of 2017 saw Blue Economy Implementation Committee gazetted so as to fast track, co-ordianate  and oversee the implementation of the programs. An acquisition of 55.6 meter deep sea search vessel that would come in to enhance the capacity on marine fisheries research. Commissioning of the construction of an offshore patrol boat to deter illegal fishing activities in the Kenya’s Exclusive Economic Zones (E.E.Z’s). Illegal fishing denies the country KES 10 billion annually as Institute and Economic Affairs report opines.

Government in partnership with the World Bank  targets to invest 10 Billion in marine fisheries through a project focussing on improving the livelihood of the people residing along the coastline. This was incorporated in the financial year 2017/2018, with 100 million set aside by the government to kick-start operationalizing a fish laboratory in Mombasa to handle quality assurance for fish and its products for the export market.

The government through laid out policy proposals seeks to reduce port charges by 50% for fishing vessels, allocation of 0.4 billion for designated fish ports along the coastline to facilitate smooth landing of deep sea fishing trawlers and 0.3 billion for aquaculture technology. 150% Investment deduction allowance shall be enjoyed for capital expenditure in this sector , exemption from VAT will be packaging materials and other inputs intended to support primary,secondary and ancillary marine fisheries and processing.

This venture is not without thorny issues as piracy, illegal fishing and border disputes are rife in the Kenyan waters that span a staggering 100,00 kilometers part of which sits on oil and gas deposits.

 

Feature Image courtesy of www.kippra.or.ke