In November last year, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced a ban of the importation of fish. The Kenyan Department of Fisheries has now lifted the ban following a biting shortage of the commodity.
“We were forced to lift the ban to ease the shortage after a huge consignment of fish got stuck at the port, impacting negatively on local supplies,” said an official at the Fisheries Department who is not allowed to speak on the matter.
The ban was lifted in January, barely three months after the restrictions took effect in November.
In November, Mr Kenyatta ordered the ban, saying it was inappropriate to bring in the fish when local sources could well satisfy the demand.
Most local factories that import fish cite unreliable supply from the local market as reasons for turning east for the catch.
Farmers Choice, one of the local processors, said it currently imports frozen tilapia fillets, normally boneless and skinless, owing to the limited supply locally.
“Most locally farmed or wild caught tilapia is sold into the market as whole fish. All our product is sourced from reputable suppliers and is inspected both pre-shipment and on arrival as required by the Kenya Bureau of Standards, and all licences and standards are complied with,” said the firm.
Kenya imports approximately 1.8 million kilogrammes of fish every month.
The country produces about 135,000 tonnes annual against an annual demand of 500,000 tonnes. Fish imports from China hit Sh1.7 billion ($170 million) last year as Kenya’s appetite for Chinese fish continued to grow with the country seeking to bridge a deficit.