By Piriye Kiyaramo
Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta has vowed to combat illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing activities on Kenyan coast, among other maritime crimes on the country’s oceans.
Declaring the first Global Sustainable Blue Economy conference open in Nairobi, Kenya, Monday, Uhuru Kenyatta, said “Combating illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing will also be prioritized going forward”.
He stressed that Kenya will be exploring new technologies and innovations as well as potential partnerships and investment opportunities that will propel Kenya’s Blue Economy to effectively contribute to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
According to him, “The Blue Economy binds us to a common destiny. Oceans are the heart of our planet, they contain 97 per cent of the earth’s water, supply nearly half the oxygen we breathe, absorb over a quarter of the carbon dioxide we produce and regulate the weather and temperature,” he noted.
President Kenyatta pledged to “confront, head-on, the challenge of waste management and plastic pollution that is compromising Kenyan’s health and ensure responsible and sustainable fishing to conserve the endangered species and high value fish stocks, on which millions of people depend for their livelihoods”.
“On the basis of these imperatives, I pledge that in Kenya, I will lead from the front. First, as a government, we will take steps to build on and expand institutional governance mechanisms that are already in place to enhance coordinated management of the blue economy,” he said.
He said “the country is taking measures to revive maritime transport, by building and expanding ports, and shipping facilities and partnering with global shipping lines to extend maritime reach”.
Also speaking, his Somalian counterpart, Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, maintained that “Somalia is a country of strategic importance, with a coastline of over 3,300 km, which is the longest in continental Africa; and an upwelling zone, which is one of the most productive in the region, offers endless potential for ocean-based industries and investments”.
“We have an abundance of untapped reserves, from fisheries and marine resources, to offshore oil and gas, and various minerals resources.
My administration recognizes that this largely unexploited resource-based can have transformative outcomes in addressing poverty, food insecurity, water shortages, energy needs, and unemployment challenges”.
He said Somalia potentially stands to gain the most from a robust and sustainable blue economy, informing that, “We are therefore developing a comprehensive strategy to tap and harness the full potential of sea-based economy in an environmentally sustainable manner.
“Our Ministry of Port and Maritime Affairs, promotes to foster partnerships for development and upgrading of our geostrategic ports, promotes shipping, seafood industry, aquaculture, desalination and minerals development. And an equally robust ministry of Fisheries that is mandated to develop marine resources.
We are fully aware of the inextricable link between peace and security, and sustainable development.
“The long period of conflict, has no doubt negatively impacted the growth and development of ocean resources in Somalia.
“Excellences, I take this opportunity to commit that Somalia is ready for suitable and sustainable partnerships and investments to tap into our rich marine resources.
“As we discuss the potential for a sustainable blue economy, and the need for investment and industrial flows, it is imperative that we first address all illegal activities along our coastlines.
“Unsanctioned exploitation of our marine resources by foreign fishing fleets; illegal charcoal trade to foreign markets; and dumping of toxic waste, have become some of the most serious environmental challenges affecting the Somali coast.
“I hope one of the momentous outcomes of this historic conference would be a strong commitment to cooperate on controlling all illegal offshore activities. My administration will continue to actively seek international cooperation to address these issues. We believe, with transparency and enhanced cooperation, and advances in technology and satellite capabilities, we should be able to curb these activities.
Peace and security remains a top agenda for my government.
“We are strengthening governance, heightening security cooperation for stability, including safe oceans and seas, and we are enhancing resilience to mitigate the harsh effects of climate change, and continuing droughts. These efforts have begun to bear fruits with much interest in our ocean sector already being registered”, he assured.