Kenya is earning more from fish exports than imports but the high volumes shipped in from China is still a concern

Fishmongers have decried the increasing number of cheap imports which they say affect sales

According to data from the Department of Fisheries, the country earned Sh8.5 billion ($83.8 million) from selling abroad, which was higher than the Sh4.03 billion ($39.7 million) paid for imports in the period under review.

The department attributed the high export earnings to the high value that Kenya’s fish earned in the world market.

Export volumes in the last three years stood at 16,429 tonnes compared with 40,991 tonnes imported in the same period.

Cheap imports

Fishmongers have decried the increasing number of cheap imports mainly from China, which they say affect sales as they cannot compete with the local catch, which are expensive.

For instance, Tilapia from China trades at Sh150 to Sh300 a kg , while the Kenyan variety goes for Sh400. Nile Perch (Mbuta) fetches Sh320 a kg.

The government has however maintained that Kenya will continue importing fish to meet the widening deficit, due to dwindling stocks both in the aquatic and marine space. Kenya has an annual deficit of 800,000 tonnes, which is filled through imports.

It added that measures are ongoing to restock Lake Victoria, a major source of fish in the country, which is currently suffering from depleted stock.

Kenya mainly imports frozen tilapia, frozen mackerels, sardines, prawns and salmons among others whereas it exports frozen Nile Perch, tuna, octopus, frozen whole tilapia and lobsters caught in the lakes and the Indian Ocean notably to the EU.

The country has a large exclusive fishing zone with potential to produce 300,000 tonnes of fish annually estimated at about Sh75 billion. However, it is yet to optimally utilise the opportunity.

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